Report by Olga Lah
On Monday, 9th February 2015, a meeting between the Rookwood Cemetery Officers ( Ms Lauren Hardgrove and Mr. Jason Kelly) and representatives of the Slovenian Community ( p. Darko Žnidaršič, Mr. Anthony Tomažin, Mr. Mark Stariha, Mr. Alfred Brežnik and Mrs. Olga Lah....with Mr. Jože Žele) met to discuss the final outcome of negotiations about the future of the Slovenian Lawn 2 plot of land.
In my last report, I outlined the options before us. At yesterday’s meeting, Option 1, which involved reallocating all the land to the south border, for Slovenian burials, was unfortunately discarded. Despite Catholic Cemeteries holding a number of meetings with other parties, the contract in place for the land in question, could not be broken.
Therefore, our negotiations yesterday, centered around the option of extending our Slovenian site to the east in a seamless flow. In summary, this is our agreement:
- The designing of the landscaping for the new area east of the existing plots will begin immediately. The design will reflect the existing landscaping. The existing service road will be ripped out to create a seamless flow. Although some graves already exist at the top end of this site, we have been reassured that the Slovenian Lawn 2 will be extended in an aesthetically pleasing flow and a border of trees and shrubs will define the perimeter of the whole extended Slovenian Lawn 2.
- A draft plan will be drawn up in the coming weeks, displayed at St Raphael’s in Merrylands and circulated throughout the Slovenian community.
- It was suggested that we rename the Slovenian Lawn 2 area so that Slovenians create and feel a secure and strong bond with the entire area being allocated to them. After discussion, the committee believe ‘St Raphael Slovenian Lawn’ would be the name most Slovenians would support.
- It was decided that the existing altar and cross would not be moved. Instead, a large plinth and statue of St Raphael would be erected where the current service road now exists.
- As previously agreed, additional plots near the existing chapel and seats could be completed in about 30 days.
- All the cost of the work involved with this extension of the Slovenian Lawn 2 will be covered by the Rookwood Catholic Cemeteries.
- The timeframe for all the extension work is predicted to take 3 – 5 months, depending on weather.
- A ‘Deed of Agreement’ will be drafted in the coming week and will include all the agreements to date.
- A final ‘Contract’ will be signed after the final design has been completed and will include all the agreements to date. Anthony Tomažin has offered to have his lawyer review the contract on behalf of our community.
- The ‘Deed of Agreement’, the ‘Contract’, and all work involved will be at no cost to the Slovenian community.
- Father Darko Žnidaršič and possibly another representative will sign the final contract on behalf of the community.
- Copies of this contract will be held by both the Catholic Cemeteries in Rookwood and St Raphael’s Church in Merrylands.
- It was decided that the committee representing our Slovenian community will finalise negotiations and that Mark Stariha will be the primary contact.
Although our preferred option was not possible, I think the community will accept the option we have negotiated and accepted. It is the best outcome possible for the problem we faced.
I want to acknowledge the sensitive and professional negotiations of Ms. Lauren Hardgrove, Mr. Jason Kelly and Mr. John Sweeney. They understood our concerns and acted in a most generous and pacifying manner.
I also want to highlight the work of your representative committee. They selflessly worked for the benefit of the Slovenian community ….now and into the future.