Mesa Cemetery opens 1,400 new plots; First expansion since 2006 - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa Cemetery opens 1,400 new plots; First expansion since 2006

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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 8:31 am | Updated: 4:40 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

Mesa’s Cemetery sits on about 50 acres of land near the north western part of the city.

A walk through the cemetery is a journey through history. The land holds the remains of Mesa’s four founding fathers, the private secretary to Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, several city leaders and even two of the doctors who started the city’s first hospital.

All together, more than 45,000 people are interred on its grounds.

More space is needed as the community grows. Last week, Mesa Cemetery opened 1,400 new plots in an area named “North View.” It’s the first time since 2006 that the cemetery has expanded.

“We have a master plan that outlines the various expansions,” said Mesa’s golf and cemetery supervisor Don Flavell. “Once we get to an inventory of two years, that triggers the next set of expansion.”

The new area is ready, with fresh grass and an outline of young trees.

There will be 1,188 adult plots and a smaller area for 270 infant plots. Both raised and flat markers will be allowed in the North View area, depending on where people choose a plot.

The Mesa Cemetery opened in 1891. The original Mesa Cemetery was located near Center Street and University Drive. Its current location at 1212 N. Center St. has about four more acres to develop, plus the city may be able to acquire additional land close by, Flavell said.

There are three parcels at North View, which take up about two acres, including roadways. The next phase the cemetery may develop is a little more than four acres of land on the north end of the site. It now holds a radio tower that is rented out, Flavell said. That lease expires in 2016.

“Once that’s up, that will be a large parcel to develop,” he said.

Space is “always a premium” for cemeteries, Flavell said. But he also noted there has been a big shift, especially in Arizona, in the number of families that choose cremation over burial. According to the Cremation Association of North America, the U.S. cremation rated toped 40 percent in 2011. Western states – including Arizona – saw cremation picked over burial 60 percent of the time.

Oftentimes, cremation is a less expensive option for families. Two cremated remains may be interred in a spot traditionally used for a single burial, Flavell said. The cemetery also has several above ground niches for interment of urns, and more in the works.

In the new North View section of the Mesa Cemetery, adult plots are available for $2,400 for a single plot or $3,100 for a companion plot. Infant plots are $690.

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