Oakland’s Historic African-American Cemetery was established in 1882 to serve as a final resting place for black residents. Many of the markers indicate the deceased were the victims of the 1918 flu pandemic, and others bear the names of some of the earliest residents.
The nearly three-acre tract of land became inactive in the early 1950s, and the trees, brush and weeds slowly took over the ground.
The town has applied for a $25,000 matching grant that would be used to prepare a management plan for the cemetery, which was deeded to the town in 2014. If approved, the town would provide a 50% match: $12,500 in cash and $12,500 in in-kind donations that also would secure a faux wrought-iron metal fence surrounding the property.
“We need to make sure we work with the appropriate person to preserve it in the right manner,” Mayor Kathy Stark said at the May 26 Town Commission meeting.
IN OTHER NEWS:
• The commission approved the first public hearing for a renewed Duke Energy franchise agreement. The current 30-year agreement was signed in 1991 and was granted to Florida Power. The new agreement is for 20 years with two five-year extensions. The second reading and public hearing will be June 23. This meeting will be held in Historic Town Hall.
• Commissioners authorized Mayor Stark to sign a letter of support for the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation and Heritage Museum, which is applying for grand funding from the state of Florida. WGHF is the main community sponsor of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center under construction on Tubb Street in Oakland.
• Mayor Stark announced that one more month’s worth of funds is coming in from an anonymous donor to help residents needing assistance with their utility bills. The COVID-19 Utility Assistance Program processed close to $4,000 in utility bill relief credits in April and May.
• It was announced that two spring cleanup days will take place Saturdays, June 6 and 13. Residents can clean out their unwanted household trash, recycling and yard waste and have it collected curbside with no size or weight limits. Items must be set out before 8 a.m. and cannot include hazardous waste, electronics, paint or batteries.