Silence is golden.

Google’s hub is being built in the town cemetery’s woods

Unpredictable sonic impacts

The healing power of quiet, meditation, and connecting to nature

Google will exploit this precedent

What is the future of the cemetery’s meadow and woods?

Carrboro Westwood Cemetery Land


Let’s keep this meadow tranquil for mourners, church services, and healing rest.

Bird’s Eye View of Carrboro’s Westwood Cemetery Land

Google’s hub is being built in the town cemetery’s woods

Families often visit the graves of their loved ones in this cemetery, whether buried one month or 20 years ago. Most of the graves were freshly decorated at Easter. Methodists hold Easter sunrise services here. Others visit for quiet reflection in the tranquil meadow between the cemetery woods and its graves. One can still hear birds singing with an acoustic background that consists of only the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. (An alderman agreed to meet with Bob on June 3. Bob asked that they meet in the meadow at 5:00, rather than in Town Hall. Soon one tiny end-of- day hand drill sound from Google’s construction, which was 150 feet from Bob’s aged hearing, startled a deer near the site. It bounded away down the side of the meadow next to the woods.)


Unpredictable sonic impacts

Engineers’ decibels cannot predict how distracting or annoying sounds might be. The 24/7 hum of Google’s cooling machinery may be audible through much of the meadow and at some graves, and the weekly “pucka-pucka” of the tests of its backup generator will be heard throughout the cemetery. These noises will be generated for commercial purposes that will generate up to $5,000,000 of subscription fees from up to 10,000 residences in a 10 mile radius. If the community had been given an opportunity for discussion and input, all along this hub could have been planned for the already-industrial OWASA water utility campus next door.


The healing power of quiet, meditation, and connecting to nature

Many in the Carrboro community already highly value access to quiet places where they can find healing connections to nature.  Next to their building, in the woods the Unity Church has built a spiritual path that connects a meditative labyrinth to a medicine wheel.  Since medical researchers have found that the risk of a heart attack can be reduced by daily meditation, many believe that the wider community would benefit from having a quiet green space available for contemplation and reflection.  This meadow next to the graveyard is still quiet, and it is within easy walking distance for over a thousand Carrboro residents.  Please watch Julia Hartsell of the Flojo Studio’s remarks to the Aldermen on April 19, 2016:
 


Google will exploit this precedent

When town staff expressed concern to Google about placing this facility on cemetery land, Google’s response was “We just put one into a park in Raleigh.” If the Town of Carrboro continues to welcome Google without asking it to reassess its site choice, then in some other town Google will soon say “We even put one of these into a cemetery in Chapel Hill.”


What is the future of the cemetery’s meadow and woods?

This meadow and the woods were acquired long ago for the possible expansion of the cemetery, but much of it is too rocky. Google’s hub could lead to further utilitarian uses of these still-green portions, whether for commercial purposes or for the Town’s public works. Moving this facility to OWASA would increase flexibility for this land, whether for cemetery uses (storing or scattering ashes) or for quiet reflection and recreation. This cemetery currently “belongs” to Carrboro’s Public Works Department. It also maintains our streets, the town’s buildings, grounds, and vehicles, and disposes of our solid wastes. The Town’s citizen Cemetery Commission was dissolved sometime after 1989, and there is no longer citizen oversight for either half of the cemetery land. The “ownership” of all of the cemetery land should be transferred to the Recreation and Parks Department. Their staff members are people people, not machinery people. Two citizens who care about the cemetery and about quiet green space should then be appointed to the Recreation and Parks Commission.


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Carrboro Westwood Cemetery Land

Almost all of the area shown forms the land belonging to this town cemetery.  From left to right, there are the graves, the meadow, and then some woods.  Deer (and occasionally homeless people) live in these woods.  The dirt area toward the bottom of the center is a “staging area” for Public Works.  There some piles of dirt are surrounded by unsightly orange plastic fencing.  The dirt area toward the bottom left has been created by the movement of grave-digging backhoes.

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