by Laura Bednar
July 25 city council workshop
Maple Shade Cemetery this summer will see the addition of columbarium granite walls, each with 96 niches to store urns holding ashes of the deceased.
Independence City Council approved the $600 per niche cost with a $300 fee for opening and closing the niche, which includes engraving. The fee for opening and closing the niche a second time – to add the remains of a spouse – is $150, which also includes engraving.
Jessica Hyser, economic development director, said when calculating the prices, the economic development and service departments reviewed burial pricing nearby, including Brecksville, Macedonia and Holy Cross Cemetery.
Councilperson Dale Veverka asked if residents could choose their niche or if it would be assigned. Mayor Greg Kurtz said a resident could choose. Each niche is 12-by-12-inches with a smooth exterior. Hyser said there would be a trough in front of the wall that could hold flowers or service medals honoring those who have passed.
Hyser said a traditional in-ground grave could hold up to six cremated remains. Council tabled discussion of price increases for in-ground burials until the next phase of the cemetery expansion is complete, which includes additional graves and a road through the property.
“The only thing we are bidding out right now is the overall grading plan, the mass grading plan. … We have to get it graded properly, proper drainage for the future,” said Kurtz. “Brecksville Road will tie into where the columbarium walls are going to go.”
Civic Center alcohol
Community Services Director Emily Thomas asked council for input on nonprofit or community organizations serving beer and wine during events at the Civic Center. Her proposal was to create a pilot program in which select organizations could schedule one event in 2024 that includes alcohol.
Thomas said the Kiwanis, Independence primary and middle school PTOs and the Independence Athletic Boosters are some of the groups expressing interest in holding events with alcohol.
Room reservations would include a non-sale consumption element, meaning no cash bar. The price of drinks would be built into the event cost.
Thomas said organizations would have to hire an off-duty police officer to be present during events. Officers are booked for at least four hours at $50 per hour. She added that the renter would sign a liability waiver. Council members questioned whether that was enough insurance for events with alcohol. City officials agreed to research liability issues and continue the discussion. ∞