The annual spring debate over decorating gravesites at the cemeteries maintained by the City of New Bedford is in full bloom. After the long dreary winter, many residents return to the gravesites of loved ones to tidy things up a bit and decorate the graves for Easter. It is at that point that they learn that items previously placed at the graves have disappeared.

The issue has been simmering for years. Some folks believe the rules about decorations and flowers are not enforced evenly. Others say they should be allowed to decorate as they see fit since they have paid for the plot of land where their loved one is buried.

The fact of the matter is there are specific rules that govern what can and cannot be placed at a gravesite. When those rules are not respected, the Department of Infrastructure reserves the right to remove the offending items.

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Times change, and perhaps it's time the existing rules change as well. In recent years, families and friends of the deceased have found new ways to decorate gravesites. Beautiful, soft solar lights add a wonderful touch. Some say it's like leaving a light on for their loved ones so they are not alone. Still others decorate a grave for the deceased's favorite holiday or birthday or when their team wins a championship. It is a connection between the survivors and their loved ones.

Councilor Brian Gomes has scheduled a meeting between the City Council Committee on Properties and the Cemetery Board to discuss updating and modernizing the rules. Cemetery Board member Jill Ussach tells me she is willing to compromise and consider some rules changes.

Compromise is good. The meeting is scheduled for June 23.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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