Before county sells Byron property, it wants to know where the graves are

Anyone who’s seen the movie “Poltergeist” knows what can happen when somebody develops over an old graveyard.

So before the Allen County Commissioners put the 120-acre Irene Byron campus on Lima Road up for sale, they’ll spend $800 to find out where the bodies are buried.

“We know where the old cemetery was, but we want to make sure there aren’t any more graves,” said Barry Sturges, the local developer who is helping prepare the site for other uses once the Byron Health Center moves to its new location on Lake Avenue later this year. The graves are remnants of the old Byron Sanitarium, which treated tuberculosis patients between 1919 and 1976.

On Friday the Commissioners were expected to approve an $800 contract with American Locating Services Inc. of Indianapolis, which will survey a specific part of the property with ground-penetrating radar to identify any grave sites that have not yet been located. The graves likely would be move to another cemetery prior to redevelopment.

In 2012 the Commissioners paid GAI consultants $94,000 to survey the entire campus and prepare it for sale, mapping the cemetery that contained about 40 graves.

Sturges said the property most likely would be redeveloped for commercial and residential uses.


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