March 2, 2005
The Tempe City Council will consider allocating $1.4 million for more graves and a six-story mausoleum to improve the historic Double Butte Cemetery.
Tempe leaders are hopeful that sales of the additional burial sites will generate enough revenue to keep the cemetery from tapping city budgets.
The city spends about $50,000 a year to maintain its only cemetery, which sold the last of its 20,000 burial sites in 1994, officials said.
The proposed allocation also would pay for general improvements and the construction of a gated entrance on the cemetery’s north side near Interstate 10 and Broadway Road.
The request is part of the proposed five-year Capital Improvement Program budget that will be discussed by the council during its issue review session at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 31 E. Fifth St.
The city charter requires the proposed budget be submitted to the council for review prior to the end of each fiscal year. Requests for the five-year plan total more than $555 million in projects ranging from sewer lines to police radios.
A cemetery master plan calling for 800 grave sites and an additional 120 infant plots was completed about two years ago, city spokesman Shawn Wagner said.
Construction could begin this summer if the council approves the proposed budget, Wagner said. But he did not know when the burial sites would go on sale.
Since selling its last plot, the city has maintained a list of people wanting to be notified once more become available, said Mark Richwine, deputy community services manager.
More than 60 people are on the list, but city officials refused to release names to protect their privacy. Richwine said that the plots would be sold on a firstcome, first-served basis.
"We wouldn’t take anybody’s money until we are nearly finished with construction," Richwine said.
The city had attempted to get out of the burial business in 1996 when it sold the cemetery to Gil Szajna.
But poor management and broken promises prompted the city to take back the cemetery three years later.
Known as the "The Arlington of Tempe," the historic cemetery opened in 1897 and is the final resting place for many of Tempe’s pioneering families.
Among them are the city’s founder, Charles T. Hayden, and his son, Carl Hayden, who served in the U.S. Senate for five decades.