Though the Westfield Police Department said they have not received any confirmation as to when late singer Whitney Houston's burial at Fairview Cemetery will take place, they are making preparations in the event that it will occur this weekend.
Houston's official death certificate reveals that she will be laid to rest at the 105-acre East Broad Street cemetery where her father John Houston was buried in 2003 but as of 12:45 p.m. today the WPD said they had received "no confirmation" from the Houston family as to when that might happen.
Houston's funeral service will be held at noon Saturday at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. The ceremony is expected to draw 1,500 mourners, including her mother, Cissy Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Kevin Costner and Clive Davis. While those details appear to be firm, speculation swirls around when Houston's body will be laid to rest.
"Right now, nothing has been confirmed," said Westfield Police Lt. John Ricerca, "but we are making preparations in the event that this should take place."
Ricerca added that should they receive confirmation from the family, the entire length of Gallows Hill Road would be closed to northbound traffic starting at 6 a.m. Sunday to be used as a media staging area.
"We are trying to accommodate the family's needs and the needs of residents as well," Ricerca said just before 1 p.m. Friday. "However, nothing has been confirmed by the family right now."
Friday evening Councilman Mark LoGrippo left the following message on his Facebook page:
"To All Westfield Residents, the Whitney Houston Burial arrangements have been made for a brief burial service on Sunday, February 19, 2012 at Fairview Cemetery. The service will be held for family and invited guests only. The cemetery will be closed to the public. The exact time of the service is still unknown, however it is expected to be held in the late morning hours. Minor road closures and parking prohibitions should be expected in the immediate vicinity of the cemetery. It does not appear that at this time that this event will have any effect on the downtown."
Thursday afternoon cruisers from the Westfield and Union County police departments came and went through the front gate of the Fairview Cemetery.
Fairview officials were issuing "no comments" but addressed concerns of family members of those already interred in the Westfield cemetery.
They have "no need for concern," according to a receptionist at Fairview Cemetery. The integrity of the plots is always of the utmost concern, she added.
Houston's body was discovered on the afternoon of Feb. 11 in a bathtub in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, just hours before she was scheduled to attend a pre-Grammy Awards function. The official cause of death has not yet been released.
The late singer's body was flown from Los Angeles to Newark on Monday night. A hearse then transported Houston to the Whigham Funeral Home, where services for her father were held in 2003.