WARRENTON — Astoria’s 122-year-old Ocean View Cemetery in Warrenton is breaking even operationally, with room to bury a whole lot of extra caskets and cremated stays.
However with the cemetery capturing a fraction of cremations and a rising development towards extra sustainable interments, town and its consultants wish to diversify the choices.
The 70-acre property, set on bucolic, rolling dune hills surrounded by woods, wetlands and lakes, was established by town in 1897 and serves a lot of the area. Town has confronted criticism from some households and Warrenton leaders over a perceived lack of upkeep. The cash-strapped Parks and Recreation Division minimize the final full-time place there in 2013.
Perceptions of the cemetery have improved, with town experiencing a drop in complaints. The parks division lately devoted a part-time seasonal employee who Jonah Dart-McClean, the parks upkeep supervisor, mentioned has improved the property’s look.
“In comparison with the final 5 years, it appears so much higher,” he mentioned.
The Metropolis Council made monetary sustainability of Ocean View Cemetery a aim. Within the spring, it contracted Lees and Associates, a Canadian-based panorama architect and cemetery planning agency, for $88,000 to create a grasp plan by early subsequent 12 months for enlivening operations.
Catriona Hearn, a senior affiliate with the agency, lately reported to the Metropolis Council and Parks Board that the cemetery is breaking even operationally, with a possibility to faucet into altering interment developments.
Town must concentrate on constructing a perpetual care fund, established with the cemetery in 1897, to cowl upkeep, Hearn lately advised the Parks Board.
“The concept is portion of each service and sale you make on the cemetery goes into the fund,” she mentioned. “It’s a belief fund. The revenue from that can pay to your future upkeep. The fund itself isn’t touched.”
James Hencke, a panorama architect with the agency David Evans and Associates supporting Lees, advisable highlighting surrounding habitat restoration for the silverspot butterfly and enhancing path entry.
Hearn has additionally pushed town to carry extra occasions on the cemetery, similar to runs and ceremonial celebrations. Town holds a Memorial Day occasion on the cemetery, which additionally lately performed host to the Clatsop County Historic Society’s Speaking Tombstones dwelling historical past characteristic.
Hearn advisable sharing the upkeep prices with surrounding governments like Warrenton and Clatsop County, and inspiring individuals to pay upfront for future interments. Town must also have a look at discounted charges for locals, kids and veterans as a goodwill gesture, she mentioned.
Breaking new floor
Lees estimates Ocean View has between 75 and 82 years value of lot house for casket burials, and 128 years for buried cremated stays. About 700 caskets are estimated to be put in over the following 25 years, together with 1,600 cremated stays. Town has house now, however can’t rely on extra land for cemeteries and must neatly develop the property it controls, Hearn mentioned.
The cemetery was established in 1897 and holds a whole lot of conventional graves and cremated stays.
“You additionally must diversify your interment choices,” she mentioned. “Proper now, you simply bury. You bury within the floor the cremated stays or the caskets.”
Greater than half of the individuals who die within the U.S. select the cheaper interment route of cremation, in accordance with the Nationwide Funeral Administrators Affiliation. Clatsop County has the best cremation charge in Oregon at 82%, Hearn mentioned. With its concentrate on burying our bodies and stays, Ocean View is simply accommodating 13% of these deaths, in comparison with half the county’s conventional burials, she mentioned.
“You’re not ignoring them,” she mentioned of cremations. “However I believe there’s enormous potential to supply them extra, to capitalize on that altering alternative.”
Town may considerably stretch its capability at Ocean View with choices like columbaria, vertical cabinets used for the storage of urns, and scattering gardens. Town has additionally mentioned methods to higher market the empty spots within the Ocean View Abbey Mausoleum, owned by the individuals with members of the family interred there. Town owns some empty crypts contained in the mausoleum.
“It wants some work, however we’ve recognized it as an asset,” mentioned Josh Bernsen, a panorama architect with Lees. “And there’s additionally some alternative to do some indoor niches for cremated stays.”
One other space for growth, particularly with town’s unused land on the north finish of the cemetery, is pure burial, wherein our bodies are allowed to decompose, typically in biodegradable containers or shrouds. The observe was extra frequent earlier than the Civil Battle, when the our bodies of troopers had been embalmed for cargo dwelling.
Grounds coordinator Matt Moritz, left, and services coordinator Mark Montgomery place a casket reducing gadget in preparation for a burial.
“We expect you will have an excellent web site for some inexperienced burial … and we all know we’ve got individuals eager about that,” Hearn mentioned.
The California-based Inexperienced Burial Council, a nationwide certification group, has authorised two Oregon cemeteries in Estacada and Portland as pure burial websites. Washington lately grew to become the primary state to permit human physique composting.
Many individuals understand cremation as extra environmentally pleasant as a result of the stays don’t take up as a lot house, Hearn mentioned, however pure burials are the greenest choice. The burial council has estimated a cremation produces the identical emissions as driving 500 miles in a automotive.
Lees lately accomplished a survey of individuals’s opinions concerning the cemetery. The agency plans to current a draft grasp plan in January.