Tucked amid concrete streets within the Westside neighborhood of Covington, KY just east of Interstate 71-75 lies an oasis of tranquility, and arguably the only viable green space in the city’s urban core.
The historic Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum
was consecrated in 1843 and is the final resting place for more than 22,000 burials across a span of 22 acres.
Linden Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is at once environmentally and civically significant. The cemetery provides important green space, and comes with a built-in history lesson as the burial site of many important civic and community leaders, congressmen and important historical figures.
Soldiers from as far back as the war of 1812 and the Civil War are buried there, along with soldiers from every other American war since. Dr. Louise Southgate, early female physician and women’s rights activist in Covington, Thomas Kennedy, one of Covington’s original founders and land owners, William Wright Southgate and Brigadier General John W. Finnell, Kentucky’s Adjutant General during the Civil War are among the important historical figures interred at Linden Grove.
Over the cemetery’s 169-year history, the site has fallen into various stages of disrepair and neglect only to be brought back to life with the help of caring citizens and the local courts.
Although the site is now more like a 22-acre park, Pete Nerone, Chairman of the Board for Linden Grove, says that the grounds lost its pond in the early 1960s when it was filled in during the construction of Interstate 71-75.
The pond once supplied a local brewery and provided a self-sustaining water source to the grounds. Thanks to the work of people like Nerone and former board member John Dietz, the pond is about to make a comeback.
As a former Peace Corps volunteer serving in West Africa, Nerone was instrumental in securing a $30,000 environmental stewardship grant from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
for the reconstruction and development of the pond.
Why does the pond matter so much? Nerone says that according to studies, the City of Covington is actually 20 percent deficient in green space, permeable surfaces and adequate tree canopy.
A healthy tree canopy provides a filter for noise and air pollution resulting from the neighboring interstate highway. It also provides homes for various birds, wildlife and aquatic species. Water from the pond can be used to improve the tree canopy as well as provide much needed hydration for landscaping and ornamental gardens.
“Linden Grove is very important real estate from an ecological point of view,” says Nerone. “It sits in an old neighborhood in the urban core of Covington. The existence of a pond on the grounds is key to the site’s longevity.”
The new pond will be controlled with a safety shelf and controlled overflow. With the grant award and the restoration of Linden Grove’s pond, Nerone says, “We can enhance and protect our beautiful green space, making it more available as a place of recreation for the community.”
By Deidra Wiley Necco