City to ‘go green’ in new part of Fairview Cemetery

       “Going green” at Fairview Cemetery might not seem like a desired prospect… until it's made clear that it's “green” as in environmental, with a planned result of lower costs and less impact on the land.

A view from the Midland neighborhood's "Fossil Hill" shows an area the city hopes to use for environmental gravesites between South 26th Street (left) and a fence (right) that marks the cemetery's boundary with private land. Red Rock Canyon Open Space is in the middle/right background.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Those are the long-range goals behind a formal submittal for developing a vacant two-acre portion of the 29-acre, city-owned burial ground at 1000 S. 26th St.
       Initiated by the city's Cemetery Division in conjunction with City Parks, the submittal asks approval of a Fairview development plan to allow “eco-gravesites,” as well as a “shade structure” in their midst.
       The new location would be on the south side of a roughly 200-foot hill (sometimes called Fossil Hill by the cemetery's Midland neighbors), on land owned by the city that abuts 26th Street on one side and a few acres of private land next to Red Rock Canyon Open Space on the other. This would set the eco-grave area apart from the main cemetery, which was established on the north side of the hill over a century ago by co-Colorado City founder Anthony Bott.
       With the plan simply showing the proposed area (not the actual plotting of gravesites), the city's Land Use Review office can approve the submittal administratively, according to Erin McCauley of Land Use.
       Construction is not imminent. The Cemetery Division, which supports itself through plot sales and other cemetery revenues, lacks the necessary funds at this time, according to Will DeBoer, the sexton (director) of the Cemetery Division. But he thinks the timing is right to begin planning that will lead to an eventual plot-layout proposal (which would require City Council approval).
       “There's a worldwide movement in the deathcare industry,” he said. “Everyone is going green with different things… We may be years away from doing this, but we want to do the design work so that when we have the funds we can move ahead.”
       Preparation of detailed plans is being aided by a Littleton-area consulting firm with experience in eco-graves. One objective with the firm is to make sure that the new area can qualify for certification from an entity called the National Green Burial Council in New Mexico. “That will give us more credibility,” DeBoer said.

In a view looking north from the opposite side of the hill as the photo on Page 1, the original Fairview Cemetery near South 26th Street can be seen, with Old Colorado City in the background.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Likely features of the eco-area would include unpaved roads, burials without embalming or steel caskets and ground cover from natural grasses instead of sod. Such grasses would not be mowed or watered, which would lower maintenance costs, DeBoer explained.
       Another point of consideration is how eco-graves would be marked. There might be no headstones, or even any marker at all; burial locations could be figured through GPS (global positioning satellite) technology, the 18-year Cemetery Division employee said.
       Supporters of eco-grave areas “want to return to the earth” and to get away from the “golf course look” of some cemeteries, DeBoer summarized. “The idea is to reduce the carbon imprint, the way it was in the old days.”
       The shade structure would be a meeting area or pavilion that could be used to conduct services in the eco-grave area. The intent would be to use “all green materials” (wood or recycled items), DeBoer said.
       The city has been seeking public comment on the proposal. For more information, contact McCauley at 385-5369 or

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