Possible cemetery site at planned fire station sparks controversy in Va.

WASHINGTON — Prince William County is once again feeling the heat.  This time, it’s because the county wants to move another small cemetery, this one from the 1800s, to build a new firehouse.

The county got lambasted by the community in 2013 after moving remains at an unmarked graveyard on the site of the county’s newest new high school.

But this time the community is, by law, being included in the decision-making process. The graveyard controversy at the new high school prompted the Virginia General Assembly to amend and re-enact Virginia code (§§ 57-36 and 57-38.1) in 2014.

Potomac Local reports that there are four options on the table for the new Coles District Fire Station. The station will be built by the old fire house on Dumfries Road in Manassas.

The red dot shows the proposed location of the new fire station in Prince William County. (Google)
The red dot shows the proposed location of the new fire station in Prince William County. (Google)

Chief Kevin McGee, of Prince William County Fire and Rescue, would prefer the first option — to move the small cemetery.

Option two calls for the use of a temporary facility while the new station is being built. This would cost an extra $1.2 million.

Option three is one the fire chief doesn’t like — building a two-story facility. The chief says it would increase response times and cost an extra $888,000.

Option four calls for building around the small cemetery.  This would reduce a sound buffer for residents who live nearby, and it would cost an extra $1 million.

Chief McGee tells Potomac Local, “When looking at the site it was very difficult to locate a station without moving the cemetery.” You can look at a map of the cemeteries here.

But the Prince William County Historical Commission doesn’t agree with the chief.  Bill Olsen, a commission member, says cemeteries should not be considered “movable.”

Susan Tansill is the wife of a direct descendant whose family is buried at the cemetery.  She tells Potomac Local that the dignity of the deceased should be protected and the county should work around the graveyard.

A public hearing on the options is scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the McCoart Building in Woodbridge. After the hearing, the County Board of Supervisors will pick one of the four options so the county can move forward with project. McGee tells Potomac Local that once approved, the project will take 18 months to finish.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up