ATLANTA -- Streetcar construction tore through the asphalt of Auburn Avenue directly in front of Haugabrooks, a funeral home that's done business here since 1929. When funeral personnel wheeled out a blue casket for a funeral Monday, they exited from an alley behind the building.
"Normally we come out the front doors of the chapel. That's not possible" now, said Marcus Wimby, CEO of Haugabrooks. The chapel's front door overlooks Auburn Ave.
Wimby says his chapel cannot hold funeral services anymore because of the construction. Haugabrooks and Cox Brothers have chapels on Auburn Ave.
Wimby says Haugabrooks has had to rent off-site facilities for services. He says he approached the city for compensation for rental costs.
"The city of Atlanta official said no. There are no monies. But they did give me some options, which I thought were insensitive and insulting," Wimby said.
One of them, he said, was to roll the casket out the front door of the funeral home, and then down the street, past the construction, to a hearse that would be waiting a block away on Hilliard St.
"If it were your loved ones, would you want to be told, just roll the body down the street?" asked Kwanza Hall, the city councilman representing Auburn Ave.
"Another option was to park the hearse across the street and roll the casket across the construction site," said Wimby. "That's just insensitive and it's not right."
So Wimby took Monday's funeral to a church in East Point. Councilman Hall says he paid the $400 rental fee for the church out of his campaign funds.
Hall said the city cannot routinely compensate businesses for inconvenience relating to infrastructure improvements. But the inconvenience to the two funeral homes on Auburn Ave. "has been a particularly challenging situation," Hall said. "In that kind of situation we should be able to figure a solution out."
Reese McCranie, a spokesman for Mayor Kasim Reed, told 11Alive News that the city expects to come up with a temporary plan to accommodate funerals based around the construction site.