Following an unfavorable funding decision for a new cemetery in East Carbon City, local officials have gone back to the drawing board in order to come up with a smaller, more affordable project.
With a re-tuned plan courtesy of JUB Engineering, the East Carbon Council will now return to the Community Impact Board later this year hoping for a more favorable outcome.
"The original request that made its way to the CIB was too large in scope," said East Carbon council member David Maggio, who took the reigns of the cemetery project after council member Andy Urbanik stepped down from the council at the beginning of this year. "We didn't need anything that large, especially right now, and this new project will serve our residents well."
While Maggio did stipulate that the original project may have been a bit too ambitious, he was adamant that East Carbon residents both need and deserve their own cemetery.
"This is a basic amenity for any city," he said. "Having a place to bury your dead is important and I know a lot of people who want to be laid to rest right here in East Carbon and with the Sunnyside Cemetery full, this project is the only way to make that happen."
To move the newly designed project forward, local officials conducted a public hearing during the city's last council session, they also heard from JUB engineers who were in town to unveil the new design.
During the session, JUB Engineer Marty Beaumont showed the project taking place in the same location but being significantly decreased in scope. The new cemetery plans have two separate phases, the first would include 1,450 burial plots with the second adding 1,200 more.
"This revised plan will be much more cost-effective," said Beaumont. "And it will still cover the city's need for the foreseeable future."
Following Beaumont's presentation, residents voiced their concerns about parking and the design of the facility. While officials did stipulate that there will be plenty of parking, both at the new facility and at the Senior Center which is directly across the street, they also said the cemetery's plans are still in the early stages and design details are not yet available.
As the council began discussing CIB funding, Mayor Orlando LaFontaine asked the officials if they would be willing to move forward if the board voted for partial loan and partial grant.
"I think we need to do whatever needs to be done to move this project forward," said council member Cheryl McFarland. "This is something we need to provide for our residents."
The council not only discussed a partial grant and partial loan, they also planned for the CIB to offer a loan only.
"Even if that is the case, I think we need to go forward with this," said council member Barbara Robinett. "There are many ways to pay back a non-interest bearing loan."
While residents at the meeting did express trepidation at the notion of their water rates increasing, they also gave a favorable response to the project moving forward.
"The project will cost about $500,000 right now. At that cost with a no interest loan, we could still pay back the principal with the sale of the plots." said former council member Andy Urbanik. "I would like to know a bit more about the new plans, but the location and the need for this cemetery are solid."