Brownstown cemetery board again expresses need for expansion


BROWNSTOWN — The longer an expansion of Fairview Cemetery is put off, the more costly it will get.

Members of the Brownstown cemetery’s board recently shared that news with the Brownstown Town Council as they asked for an update on potential funding to get the project rolling.

The council, though, said it has yet to meet with Reedy Financial Group to discuss how American Rescue Plan funding can be allocated. Council President Gregg Goshorn said the town has the money — $367,000 — but it has not yet been allocated.

Councilwoman Sharon Koch said the meeting with Reedy should be soon, and then they will have a better understanding of how the money can be used.

“Now is the time to start getting bids for spring and summer work, which is when it ideally needs to take place,” cemetery board President Luke Nolting told the council.

Fellow board member Jim Phillips said the costs for equipment and fuel continue to rise, and Nolting said every time they consult with their surveyor, it’s an additional charge.

Nolting asked if they could go ahead and seek bids for the project. Town attorney Zach Miller said if the town starts taking bids and doesn’t do the project, it’s an invitation for some potential legal issues, as contract law comes into play. He suggested making sure the town has the funding before accepting bids.

The expansion of the town-owned cemetery at 610 N. High St. has been on the radar since at least 2012.

The plan is to add 10 sections, which will include 1,083 new lots, in an undeveloped area on the west side of the cemetery.

The current cost per burial plot is $650, but Nolting said the board has discussed raising that.

“When we do expand, that would be a good time to raise the cost of the cemetery lots to help offset the costs of expansion, and it makes sense. Everything else is going up in price,” he said.

The cemetery also charges a perpetual care fee of $200 for upkeep and maintenance.

Phillips said in the current cemetery, there are 317 lots open. In 2021, there were 40 burials. Already this year, there have been eight.

“We are in need of an expansion project, as we have been for years and years and years,” Nolting said. “But we’re at the point now where we’re filling up the last couple of sections that we have, and we know that after talking to Jonathan Isaacs (with Independent Land Surveying), who has done all of the cemetery’s work in the past, that since we quoted this, it has more than doubled in price.”

In 2014, Phillips said the cost was around $70,000. Now, it’s $125,000 for construction. Plus, it costs around $7,200 for surveying and other services.

The cemetery board has a $50,000 pledge to help the town offset the expansion project cost, so that means $75,000 is being requested.

With the expansion, the plan is to create an entrance at the end of North Elm Street to access the new sections. Currently, that road is blocked off. Nolting said opening that up would be easier for a funeral procession to go straight into the new area, and it would only be open on the day of a funeral.

The board approached the council about the proposed project twice last year, and it hopes to see action taken this year.

“The sooner we get the bids in this spring, the cheaper it might be. The longer you wait, the more it could be,” Phillips said. “If we can get some bidding done on it and get three or four contractors involved in it, then we’ve got something to work with.”

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