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Cemetery shortage gets look from body politic

Tamie Meck
Staff Writer

Glenwood Springs may work with its neighbors to the west to establish a new regional cemetery.

The mayors of Glenwood Springs, Silt and New Castle, as well as community and governmental representatives from Battlement Mesa to Glenwood, met Tuesday in New Castle at the regular meeting of the Western Valley Mayors. On the agenda were the revised White River National Forest Plan (see story, below), cemeteries, and county prisoners.

Glenwood Springs City Council members Larry Emery presented the results of a recent regional cemetery survey to identify the immediate and future needs of area communities. Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Rifle and Silt participated in the survey.

“All five obviously have a functional facility in place,” said Emery. “The difference is in the life of the facilities.”

Glenwood Springs is under the most pressure to establish a new cemetery, with Rosebud Cemetery only expected to meet the needs of the community for two to three more years.

“It’s a pretty serious situation for Glenwood Springs,” said Mayor Don Vanderhoof.

Rifle’s facilities are expected to reach capacity within eight to nine years. The needs of Silt, New Castle and Carbondale, on the other hand, aren’t as pressing, since the estimated usefulness of their facilities are 20, 30 and 50-60 years respectively.

According to the survey, Carbondale is the only town not interested in participating in a regional cemetery, “and I understand that,” said Emery. “Carbondale is taken care of well, well into the future.”

New Castle’s survey indicated that it may be interested in participating.

Questions about cost for burial services, existing plans for expansion, land availability, and whether cemetery operations should be kept public or moved to the private sector were also included in the survey.

Survey results largely favored keeping burial services public, since it keeps costs low. However, surveys also indicated that prices should be raised to keep them in line with actual costs. Prices range from $200-$531 for lots, $125-$150 for cremation, $225 to $500 for services, and $250-$400 for perpetual care. Actual costs were not immediately available.

None of the communities indicated that public lands are available for future cemetery sites. Glenwood Springs has identified one possible site, according to Vanderhoof. The city owns about 3,000 acres of land in the South Canyon area.

“It’s probably less than ideal for us,” said Vanderhoof. Areas of concern include access and the remoteness of the area from town. There are conflicting uses with the land, which Vanderhoof said will be more clearly identified if the land is more seriously considered as a cemetery site.

Another possible site is the Cardnell Ranch, a 90-acre parcel of land located on the south side of the Colorado River from West Glenwood. About 40 acres of the land are considered useable. The city is also considering the land as the site for a regional wastewater treatment plant.

“We appreciate it being brought up with such foresight,” said New Castle Mayor Bill Wentzel of the regional cemetery idea. Planning for the future now may prevent other communities from being in the same situation as Glenwood Springs.

More talks are expected in the future.

Garfield County Commissioner John Martin gave a brief update on the new county jail’s pre-sentence prisoner policy.

Since Garfield County municipalities haven’t worked closely together for at least eight years, a set of standardized procedures for booking inmates hasn’t been established. “We need to involve western towns in these decisions,” said Martin.

Vanderhoof, agreed, saying all of the municipalities need to work together to streamline arrest and booking procedures. “It’s not complicated,” he said.

No, it’s not, said Martin. “It’s just standardization.”

Western Valley Mayors meets every other month on the third Tuesday.

The next meeting will be held at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Silt Cafe.


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