With Brookfield trustees setting aside $20,000 for the installation of a columbarium at Brookfield Township Cemetery – which could be added to another $20,000 already budgeted – they hope to bring the cemetery more into the modern age and improve its financial position.
They have been discussing how to handle cremated remains for some time, and the availability of the $20,000 from a grant from AEP Ohio and matching funds from the Strimbu Memorial, O’Brien Children Memorial and Kirila Family foundations brings the issue to the forefront.
The township recently received a request to allow installation of a gravestone that would hold three sets of cremated remains, said Road Superintendent Jaime Fredenburg, who oversees the cemetery. It’s not the first time someone has asked about such a monument, he said May 7.
Fredenburg said he denied the requests because the township does not have a policy about such monuments, and he has some concerns about how the township would handle them if they are allowed. One of his concerns is financial.
“If they do it without getting your consent, like on a weekend or evenings, then you lose any opening and closing costs, which is your revenue,” he said.
The cemetery also generates revenue by lot sales, he said.
“You might want to think about getting the opening and closing costs up front for any crypts that are in the monument,” Fredenburg said.
The cemetery also has a policy that no more than two people can be buried in a grave plot, he said.
Trustee Ron Haun said he would be worried about the accuracy of burial records.
“If anybody ever needed that information down the road, it wouldn’t be there because they went ahead and put it in themselves,” he said.
The township bought what had been the former Brookfield High School outdoor track to expand the cemetery, and trustees plan to install the columbarium there. A columbarium is “basically a cremation mausoleum,” Fredenburg said July 2. It has niches in which to hold cremated remains, and the names of the deceased are carved on the drawer faces.
The columbarium should be aesthetically pleasing to become a focal point of the cemetery, Fredenburg said. Noting the upswing in cremations, Fredenburg and Haun said they believe the columbarium could drive sales, and would allow the township to bury more people in a smaller space.
“Now, you’ve extended the life of your cemetery,” Haun said.