Fairview Cemetery running out of room
About 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 “close to 75” casket spaces are left and predicted that within two years none will be available.
”If you want to be buried at Fairview, you better do it right away,” he said.
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 clarified.
The Westside burial grounds is one of two that the city owns. The other is Evergreen Cemetery, off Fountain Boulevard east of downtown, which has developable space to last another 75 to 100 years, DeBoer reckons.
“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 sprinklers, let alone to incorporate such a system into the already-developed area.
The cost to install a sprinkler system at Fairview was estimated at $500,000 three years ago. But the division does not have such funds, DeBoer said.
Hand-watering the developed part of Fairview averages $20,000 a month in the summertime, which greatly exceeds Fairview's income (earned from sales of plots as well as burial-related fees), he said.
The bottom line matters to the Cemetery Division because it's self-supporting and does not receive funds from the city budget.
Cemetery officials have looked into using less expensive non-potable water, but the nearest such line is on the Mesa (serving the Kissing Camels golf club), so that's not realistic, either, DeBoer pointed out.
Three years ago, the Cemetery Division gained city concept approval for a plan to dedicate roughly two vacant acres elsewhere on the property - at the south end, including the hill next to 26th Street - for an “eco-friendly” burial area. The earnings from such a project would help cover other cemetery costs, including the previously mentioned casket-area expansion. But 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.
Another factor affecting Fairview funds is a social change. In Colorado Springs, where an average of 3,200 people die 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.
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.
Westside Pioneer article