Maple Shade Cemetery expansion includes 1,300 gravesites

by Lori Gray

Maple Shade Cemetery, established in 1851 with nearly 4,000 gravesites, had fewer than 30 traditional cemetery plots remaining for purchase in 2023. With such limited space left, it was necessary for the city to develop long-term solutions to handle resident burials, according to City Planner Annie Lynch.

The two-phase plan included a new road network that ties into the existing cul-de-sac where the columbarium walls are located, and a layout for over 1,300 new grave plots. The expanded footprint will also include several maple trees to reinforce and honor the cemetery’s name and create a peaceful resting place.

In Phase I, three columbarium walls were installed and dedicated last August. Each double-sided wall houses 96 niches. Each 12-by-12-inch niche can accommodate up to two urns.

With 25% of all burials at Maple Shade being ash burials, the addition of columbarium walls aligned with the continued increase in cremation burials nationwide, according to Lynch.  

The National Funeral Directors Association projects cremation and burial rates to be 60.5% and 34.5%, respectively.

The walls rest on concrete pads surrounded by landscape planters and benches for reflection and visiting loved ones. Three more walls will be added in the future.

Phase II added more than 1,300 grave plot sites for residents to purchase in a new section of the cemetery. Once the plots for the new section are staked and pinned this spring, they will be available for pre-sale. The last 25 sites in the old section are available on an as-needed basis. Lynch said residents can make cemetery arrangements through the service department.

The engineering department designed the expansion plan in-house, utilizing the land north of the existing cemetery and just south of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice facility driveway. The city acquired this land in 2015.

Last August, city council approved a contract with Fabrizi Trucking & Paving Co. for the site grading and pavement construction for $611,714. Lynch said funds for the expansion were earmarked in the city’s 5-year capital plan.

“The expansion project was carefully thought out and designed with current trends in burials and future growth in mind,” said Lynch. “Maple Shade Cemetery is more than just a resting place, but the city’s vision of beauty, love and devotion for future generations to see.” ∞

The cemetery has expanded south of the Cavaliers practice facility to include new roads and more ground space for traditional burials. Photo by Lori Gray.

Photo (main / above): Benches and landscaping have been added to the columbarium walls in the cemetery. Photo submitted.