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Moving forward: Committee works on policy for Soldotna cemetery

Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Soldotna Community Memorial Park policy committee scrutinized a draft of the park's rules and regulations Tuesday night, fine-tuning the language and discussing modifications to how the park will be run.

The draft outlines operational and administrative procedures, but also gets down to the nuts and bolts more relevant to park users. For example, artificial flowers will be disallowed, decorative items will be removed and disposed of at the first of every month, and the vehicle gate will be closed from October to April.

The committee, composed of several Soldotna residents, two council members, and Soldotna Mayor Peter Micciche, only crafts the draft; ultimately, the city council will have to approve and pass it.

"We've had a great record in this city of the council members respecting the work of the various boards and committees," Micciche said, "so it's rare that they make substantive changes to the committee work."

One matter that came up at the meeting related to green burials. Wholly natural burials will not be permitted in the park. So, to support more eco-minded individuals, the city is offering a $50 rebate to those opting to use wooden biodegradable coffins.

"It's been very important to the committee from the beginning that we have natural options," Micciche said of the rebate. "So we're supporting and rewarding that option."

As the committee moved through the document, Councilmember Dale Bagley took issue with a clause stating, "The City of Soldotna reserves the right to move or cremate the remains in any interment site ... when and if such sites are in imminent danger of destruction by natural elements."

Talk of 9.0 magnitude earthquakes, references to Japan, and a lot of "what if" questions cropped up, causing Micciche to point out the clause is only there for very extreme situations.

"I don't think I like this, though," Bagley maintained. "I don't like the idea that we may cremate someone that doesn't want to be cremated."

Micciche removed the word "cremate" from the copy, and later stated, "I hope we continue to have minor disagreements to make this the best policy possible."

Other topics discussed and clarified included that a person cannot sell a plot to another person, that concrete slabs over graves will not be allowed, and that children under 7 can be buried in the baby lawn area with no interment fee.

Things are moving right along with the park in general, with construction slated to start this spring and be completed by July 15. On Wednesday night, the city council passed a resolution authorizing City Manager Larry Semmens to contract with North Star Paving & Construction Inc. on the project to the tune of more than $650,000.

Another policy committee meeting is scheduled for April 28, when the group will go over the edited draft and work on pricing policy, such as how much to charge for a plaque on the memorial wall, a cremain niche in the columbarium, or a standard plot.

Karen Garcia can be reached at karen.garcia@peninsulaclarion.com.



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