WILMINGTON, MA — Earlier this week, the Wilmington Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to authorize the taking of property located at 64 Wildwood Street via eminent domain in order to expand the Wildwood Cemetery. The property owner will receive $450,000 from the town.
At the 2020 Annual Town Meeting, voters approved the purchase of this land, which is adjacent to the cemetery. According to DW Director Mike Woods, the land will allow for the creation of 400-500 additional cemetery lots.
“That would take care of the cemetery for a couple more decades,” he told the Wilmington Cemetery Commission after the Town Meeting.
“The Town has been interested in acquiring this piece of property for quite some time,” Town Manager Jeff Hull told Selectmen on Monday night. “We met with the trustee of the property, Robert Brown, on December 4, 2018. We indicated we were interested in the property for cemetery expansion as we’re approaching the limits of the existing space we have.”
Hull noted that while the Public Works Department recently added a columbarium and a scatter garden to the cemetery, ultimately land for more plots is necessary.
“We attempted to engage in multiple communications with the Trustee. Letters from me. Phone calls. Emails. From 2018 through this past fall when Town Counsel attempted to reach out. We were hoping to work collaboratively and reach a mutually beneficial agreement,” continued Hull. “Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there was no response except for one limited instance where I caught him by surprise on the phone. He indicated he would meet with me at a later date, which never happened.”
“Eminent domain is a last resort effort,” stressed Hull. “There’s been multiple efforts to engage in conversation. We haven’t been able to do that…. In light of the fact that we have not been able to engage, this is where we are.”
Selectwoman Judy O’Connell noted the house is currently dormant and unoccupied.
“It’s important to point out we’re not putting a family out on the street,” said O’Connell. “It’s a vacant structure.”