Tempe is looking to breathe new life into its only cemetery.
The City Council gave approval Thursday night to start drafting plans that will expand the historic Double Butte Cemetery, near Interstate 10 and Broadway Road.
Since selling the last of the its 20,000 burial sites in 1994, the city has been looking to fill a demand for more graves in the city.
Known as the "The Arlington of Tempe," the historic cemetery is the final resting place for many of Tempe’s pioneering families as well as bank robbers and horse thieves.
Mayor Neil Giuliano called it an important part of the city’s heritage, linking past and present.
"We’ve had a lot of interest from people in the community wanting to make sure the cemetery is maintained and enhanced as a future burial grounds for long time Tempeans," Giuliano said.
The city did not buy additional land for the expansion, but will pay Logan Simpson Design Inc., more than $188,000 to work with the existing property. The council also approved setting aside an additional $18,193 in contingency funds.
Using a section of an abandoned road in the north side of the cemetery, Double Butte will add between 1,300 and 1,400 new plots, said Mark Richwine, city parks and recreation director.
He expects Logan Simpson to complete its designs within six to nine months.
Contractors will have 30 to 60 days to offer bids after the designs are approved. Construction should begin during the first half of 2005, Richwine said.
If demand continues after the new plots are sold, the city will construct additional mausoleum and cremains spaces, he said.
The Tempe Cemetery Company established the Double Butte in 1897, three years after the city was incorporated, according to the official city Web site.
Among those buried in Double Butte are Tempe’s founder, Charles T. Hayden, and his son, Carl Hayden, who served in the U.S. Senate for five decades.
After selling Double Butte in 1998 to a private owner, Tempe bought the cemetery back two years later.