Fairview Cemetery down to its last 100 casket spacesAbout 9,000 people have been buried at the Westside's Fairview Cemetery since it opened in 1895.
Now the roughly 30-acre location at 1000 S. 26th St. is nearly out of room.
Will DeBoer, the sexton (director) of the City Cemetery Division, said in a recent interview that “there are maybe 100 casket spaces left at Fairview Cemetery.”
He estimated that people have until Spring 2015 to make reservations before they are all gone. Caskets, the traditional type of burial, take up more space than do cremated remains, for which space is not yet an issue at Fairview, DeBoer pointed out.
“When Fairview is full we will go into a straight maintenance mode and honor our perpetual care responsibilities,” DeBoer said. “People that wish to be buried in a city cemetery will have to use Evergreen.”
Technically, there are three acres on the west side of Fairview that could hold about 2,000 more casket spaces (as well as 1,000 cremation), he said. However, there are no funds to put in the necessary underground sprinkler system, let alone to incorporate one into the already-developed area. Which is expensive. Currently, “we are forced to hand-water that cemetery through the entire growing season during the day using potable water at the highest tier for pricing,” DeBoer elaborated.
The cost to install a sprinkler system at Fairview was estimated at $500,000 three years ago.
Also three years ago, the Cemetery Division gained city concept approval for a plan to dedicate about two vacant acres at the south end of the Fairview property (including the hill next to 26th Street) for an “eco-friendly” burial area. The earnings from such a project would help cover the casket-area expansion, DeBoer explained at the time. But implementation of the eco plan - which would be mostly natural but need an access road, parking lot, pathways and site preparation - is also stymied by finances, with $150,000 the estimated cost for its first phase.
The Cemetery Division is self-supporting and does not receive funds from the city budget.
Another factor affecting its finances is a social change. In Colorado Springs, where an average of 3,200 people each year, cremation occurs for about 70 percent of them. But the ashes don't necessarily wind up in cemetery urns, adding thereby to the city cemetery fund. Some get scattered to the wind. Others end up unclaimed at funeral homes, DeBoer said. He suggested a reporter make a call to find out how often.
Colorado City co-founder Anthony Bott originally donated the space for Fairview to his town; the cemetery became Colorado Springs' responsibility after it annexed Colorado City in 1917. Bott's prominent grave is at Fairview's northeast corner, at 26th and Howbert streets.
Before Fairview opened, Colorado City had several other cemeteries. None lasted anywhere near as long.
Westside Pioneer article