PROVO, Utah — Over the past few years, James Cornaby, Provo cemetery sexton, and his staff of one have been working at a fever pitch to get a new addition to the Provo City Cemetery ready for business.
The new addition is approximately 8 acres that were purchased just west of the cemetery and have been transformed from muck and mud into a new ground burial area, and cremation garden and mausoleum, the Daily Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1WptGFF).
In past years there had been some discussion about opening another cemetery off Slate Canyon Road in the area of Bicentennial Park. However, finances didn't work out, and that's when the city purchased the land around the current location.
A revenue bond for $2.3 million, plus $800,000 in reserve cemetery funds, helped to move the project forward. Initial projections suggested the addition would cost nearly $4 million but Cornaby came in under budget.
The new addition offers a mix of the old-style monument options with more modern and convenient spaces with unusual styling new to the cemetery.
"There's a mixed-use concept," Cornaby said. "There are upright spaces (for monuments), flushed to the ground spaces and the Cremation Garden."
The Cremation Garden, perhaps the most unique of the cemetery's features, is about one-quarter of an acre and offers families several different options for interring cremains of love ones.
The new garden offers 2,700 spaces for urns and special containers including niche boulders, arbor niche columns, pavilion columns with cremation spaces and bird bath pedestal columns where the column is hollowed to hold the cremains.
Families are also able to purchase cremation benches where their loved one is placed and where family members may sit and meditate or enjoy the gardens.
"Local cremations are more common and we are accommodating more," Cornaby said. "We wanted to incorporate design for that purpose."
While the gardens don't feature green turf, there are shrubs, ground cover and perennials. The rest of the 7-plus acres has been hydro-seeded and 256 trees have been planted.
Cornaby has been working hard on the new project while maintaining and grooming the rest of the cemetery. As part of the current tentative proposed fiscal year budget 2016-2017, there are proposed fee increases and the request for one more full-time employee to help at the cemetery.
With the work and plant growth that is remaining, Cornaby hopes the spaces in the new area will become available for purchase sometime between this coming fall and early spring of 2017.
Cornaby said the mausoleum has been put out to bid as the last part to be completed in the new area. The mausoleum will hold 290 crypts and 340 niche spaces. In all, 13,000 new spaces will be added to the cemetery with the completion of the current project.
"That should last between 25-30 years, depending on how families use their properties," Cornaby said.
The Provo City Cemetery was opened in 1853. During the settlement years Provo had three cemeteries: one on Temple Hill, where the Maeser Building at Brigham Young University sits; one on Grandview Hill; and the original one at Fort Field.
People of interest from Provo's past buried at the cemetery include Beebe Rockwell, wife of Orrin Porter Rockwell; Dr. Carlyle Harmon, inventor of the disposable diaper; Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the television and stereophonic sound; Martha Smith Harris, daughter of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith; Jesse Knight, at one time the richest man in Provo; U.S. Sen. Reed Smoot; and author-composer Ora Pate Stewart, among others.
For more than a century and a half Provo's cemetery has been a landmark in the community, and not just for burials. It has been used for family gatherings, Memorial Day services, genealogical expeditions and daily walks. The old pine trees are considered one of its greatest attractions.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com