Cemetery officials looking to expand property

BROWNSTOWN

With an expected increase in the demand for burial plots in the next few years, Fairview Cemetery officials are looking at ways to expand the property.

That’s going to require money, and they may have to consider raising the price of burial plots to make it all happen.

“According to a report issued by AARP, a significant increase in the number of deaths will occur over the next five to eight years as the result of the baby boom age adults that were brought up in World War II are now in their 70s,” said Jim Phillips, who helped document the cemetery’s gravesites and get a website up and running.

“At some point in time because of this time frame, we’re going to need some additional burial lots if we’re averaging 35 to 40 burials a year,” he said.

As of the end of 2015, in the 25.6-acre cemetery, 118 single lots are available in addition to nearly 200 lots for couples.

“Many of those (single) lots are adjacent to family group lots of four or eight lots, and people looking for lots are not necessarily wanting to bunk up with a family of four or eight,” Phillips said. “You can’t really sell those to individuals. Nobody wants to buy them that way.”

Cemetery board member Larry Spurgeon has been endcapping some sections by taking out bushes and creating a gravesite.

In late 2013, Phillips said the cemetery board had the northwest part of the cemetery surveyed by Independent Land Surveying of Brownstown. That firm created a map reflecting a new burial section, which can provide 1,200 new burial sites.

The new section, which would extend off of the north end of Elm Street and turn east into the cemetery, would include a wide walkway for a funeral hearse to get close to the gravesites.

Independent Land Surveying estimated the cost at the time to be about $58,000. In today’s dollars, Phillips said that would be about $70,000.

Spurgeon said there also is a possibility down the road of obtaining about 5 acres across the road from the cemetery.

The cemetery board has asked the town council to consider putting some money aside to make the expansion happen.

“We’re talking at least five years, but it’s something we need to start working on,” Spurgeon said.

Spurgeon said the cemetery board was going to discuss raising the price of burial plots.

The current price for a burial plot is $550. Spurgeon said the Seymour cemeteries charge $800. Town council President John Nolting asked if raising plots to $800 is too much at once.

“I think in the past, they have raised them like $100 or something at a time,” Spurgeon said.

He said the only cost increase in recent years was the perpetual care fee, which goes toward maintenance, repair and care of the cemetery. That’s now at $200.

In 2015, Phillips said the cemetery had 36 burials, sold and deeded out 21 lots, including three memory gardens, and generated revenue of $10,575. The perpetual care fund received $7,200.

The biggest expense is mowing, which costs $875 each time.

The cemetery is owned by the town and is managed by an appointed board that oversees operation on an annual budget of less than $50,000. As a government entity, the cemetery board exists as a nonprofit organization, and all funds received from the sale of grave sites and perpetual care fees are returned to the town.

On the Web

For information about Fairview Cemetery, visit fairviewcemeterybrownstown.org.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.