GREENFIELD – The city is considering a possible extension of the park’s cemetery that could incorporate space for more non-traditional methods of laying the remains.
In its budget for the coming year, the city has allocated up to $ 50,000 to hire a cemetery design consultant to help plan for the future.
Greenfield Street Superintendent Tyler Rankins, who oversees the cemetery, said the town is responding to a need for more space as well as a growing number of people who are not opting for a traditional burial.
âWe need to hire a specialist to tell us about best practices,â he said.
Rankins said city leaders hope to hire someone who can educate them about alternative forms of burial and grave markers, such as columbaria, structures used for public storage of cremation ashes. Another possibility would be to incorporate a garden on the property where the ashes could be scattered.
Rankins said the city will work to keep alternative burial options to the cemetery affordable for citizens while ensuring they do not constitute a burden on taxpayers.
About 1,200 plots are still available in the cemetery, Rankins said. It may sound like a lot, he added, but most are individual plots and many residents want to buy a family plot where two or more people can be buried in adjacent graves.
An expansion would be located on 16 acres south of the cemetery that already belongs to the city. With that space, Rankins said, Park Cemetery could accommodate traditional burials for about 50 more years. If more non-traditional methods are used, the space could be sufficient for up to a century.
Demand for non-traditional cremation and burial has increased in recent years in Hancock County, said David Stillinger, owner of Stillinger Family Funeral Home.
âWe’ve been running cremation burials (at Park Cemetery) for years,â Stillinger said. â… Burial by cremation is more and more frequent in our region. “
There are several reasons why people might opt ââfor cremation over traditional burial, Stillinger said, adding that popularity has spread from the west and east coasts. Some may think about the cost, while others may not want to see their body or attend a formal after-death ceremony. The growing popularity of cremation may also reflect a tendency for people to move more often and feel less attached to a specific geographic area, he said.
Stillinger said he would welcome increased options for cremation burial at Greenfield.
Fortville’s Gravel Lawn Cemetery, a private, non-profit cemetery, already has two columbariums. Each contains 72 niches for an individual’s ashes, in rows of six. Sales manager Linda Sue Rhoades said a columbarium, installed in 2012, is largely full; the second was installed this spring and has already sold several kennels.
âThey’re pretty popular,â Rhoades said.
Gravel Lawn also added an ossuary, a unique site where the cremated remains of many individuals can be buried. Rhoades said it was “an inexpensive way to let someone rest.”
Columbariums are also less expensive than traditional burials. At Gravel Lawn, a traditional grave costs $ 1,100 and burial costs an additional $ 770. Headstones are an additional variable cost. The Gravel Lawn columbarium niches cost $ 1,540 all inclusive, which includes an engraving on the front of the niche.
âKennels are a cheaper way to have a very dignified resting place,â Rhoades said.
Spending on a cemetery expansion study was an area that was identified as a concern regarding city spending in a petition that was submitted to the city by resident Larry Silver and signed by 14 other residents. The petition will be included in the city’s budget in its submission to the state’s local government finance department for review.
Silver, who plans to run for Greenfield mayor as a Libertarian in 2023, said the city should be able to make its own decisions about the use of Park Cemetery land without hiring a consultant.
Park Cemetery was established as Greenfield’s Municipal Cemetery in the 1860s and is the resting place of many notable citizens of Greenfield, including local artist Will Vawter, Civil War General Oliver Gooding and the parents of the poet James Whitcomb Riley.
Local historian Brigitte Cook Jones said the city established the cemetery when its first burial space, the South Street Cemetery, began to fill up.
âWhen the Civil War broke out a lot of soldiers came back, and that’s when the park cemetery was created,â Jones said.
In April, Greenfield City Council voted to approve a price increase for the burial at Park Cemetery. The city has increased prices for a standard single grave from $ 625 to $ 800 and for an infant grave from $ 175 to $ 225. The ordinance also set the cost of the burial at $ 800 for a traditional burial; $ 300 for a burial by cremation; and $ 225 for an infant or funeral paid for by Medicaid.
In addition, the cemetery charges $ 1,600 for the exhumation of a standard grave; $ 700 for cremation graves; and $ 450 for a baby grave.