Phase I of Maple Shade Cemetery expansion underway

by Laura Bednar

After a years-long discussion on expanding Maple Shade Cemetery, Independence City Council approved the first phase of adding columbarium walls.

City planner Annie Lynch said 25% of all burials at Maple Shade are ash burials, and that number is expected to rise. There are currently 50 traditional plots available for purchase.

According to city legislation, “Due to the cemetery’s limited available space, the city believes it is necessary to develop innovative, alternative, and long-term solutions to sustain the cemetery.”

Phase I will include three columbarium walls, landscaping, seating and concrete paths along an existing cul-de-sac in the northern section of the cemetery. Portage Marble & Granite in Kent will design, build and install the walls for $104,583.

An additional $47,062 was approved for landscaping, seating and concrete paths. A $23,354 contingency was added. Lynch said she anticipated the city to complete this work.

Finance Director Vern Blaze said in a May public lands and buildings committee meeting that at least $225,000 was already set aside for the columbarium project.

Each wall will have 96 niches: 48 on each side, four high and 12 across. The walls will be gray granite and each crypt will be 12-by-12 inches to accommodate two urns.

In the May public lands meeting, Portage Marble and Granite representative Kevin Nixon said, “We issue a full perpetual warranty. It guarantees that the columbarium will never fade, crack, discolor … in any way.”

The black granite doors over each individual niche can be removed for inscription. Design regulations for the doors and pricing of each niche will be determined by the public lands and buildings committee and approved by city council at a later date, according to Lynch.

Nixon said he estimates a six-month lead-time in getting the columbarium walls.

Service Director Ron McKinley said the city charges $475 for a traditional plot with grave opening and closing fees varying, based on whether the burial takes place on a weekday or weekend. Burial of ashes is $115 on a weekday and $150 on a weekend, according to the city charter.

The charter also states graves are “available only to residents of the city who have maintained residence in the city for at least five consecutive years.” Former residents can purchase a grave if they can prove past residency of at least five years.

Future phases of the Maple Shade Cemetery expansion include additional grave plots and a road extension. The land south of the Cleveland Clinic Courts driveway on Brecksville Road has been identified as a space for traditional grave plot expansion, according to a memo from Lynch.

The memo stated: “To accommodate the expansion, a new entry drive coming off Brecksville Road will connect to the cul-de-sac in the northern section of the cemetery and open up approximately 1,200 plots.”

An additional road network through the middle and east sides of the site will create access to 1,800 plots. A request for this construction will be presented to council at a later date. ∞

Photo: Rendering of the completed columbarium project. Three columbarium walls will be added in the future phases for a total of six. Photo courtesy of Annie Lynch.