- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The commander of the state National Guard has pulled the plug on a private effort to install lighting at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan.

Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk made the decision Friday, after a public meeting on the proposal earlier in the week.

The military said no other such cemetery in the United States is lighted, and concerns were raised about impacted views, light pollution and maintenance costs.

“As a rule, nationwide, veterans’ cemeteries are not illuminated at night,” Sprynczynatyk to KXMB-TV (https://bit.ly/1Nh9bUV ). He also worried that light poles would detract from the 5,700 gravestones at the cemetery.

Organizers wanted to install lighting along the roadways and walking paths spanning across the cemetery. Backers of the project said nearly half of the project’s $400,000 cost had already been raised from businesses and private donations.

Dave MacIver, who had been working to get the project approved, said the goal was to give people the chance to visit the cemetery at night. The lights would be similar to those along city streets except they would be much dimmer, he said.

MacIver said some people resisted the project because of the thought of changing something many people care about.

“I don’t want to disturb that from the perspective of turning it into a side show,” he said.

Money raised for the effort will be returned, organizers said.

The North Dakota Veterans Cemetery was established by the Legislature in 1989 and opened in 1992. North Dakota adjutant general’s office operates the facility.

It is located 6 miles south of Mandan on a 35-acre tract of land in the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Officials at the park also raised concerns about lighting, the military said.

The cemetery averages approximately 450 burials per year. The cemetery is estimated to have enough space for 67 years though a planned expansion would add about a century to that, officials said.

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