2018-06-10 / News

Chesaning Township moving forward with columbarium

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CHESANING TWP. – The Chesaning Township cemetery committee has decided to meet with local columbarium contractors to discuss options before going out for bid on a columbarium facility at Wildwood Cemetery.

A columbarium is a permanent structure designed with many niches to hold burial ashes. The Chesaning Township Board has been planning to build a columbarium at Wildwood Cemetery for several years. However, during the past two budget years, the board had to redirect the designated funds to preserving graves located too close to the eroding Shiawassee River bank.

During the June 7 meeting of the Chesaning Township Board, Clerk Fran Kukulis led the discussion on the columbarium project.

She explained that the board previously planned to place a flag pole at the center of the columbarium. However, historical markers for the Grand Army of the Republic were discovered in the older section of the cemetery. These markers honor all military persons, known and unknown. A flag is expected to be placed at that site.

Kukulis explained that she has been working with one columbarium vendor for information.

“We need to decide how we’re going to go out for bid and whether local vendors would have additional consideration,” Kukulis said.

The board had planned to build the columbarium section one unit at a time, arranged in a circle, however, Kukulis explained why that might not be the best way to go. She learned that contractors buy all the marble or granite for an entire project at once, so it matches. If the township only builds one columbarium unit for the grouping at a time, waiting until all the niches are sold, it is unlikely the marble/granite will match the other units. There’s also a substantial savings for building the entire project at once, and those savings could mean a big difference in how affordable the individual niches are.

Kukulis said, “I feel very strongly that whoever we go with, we want to stay with the same vendor, so we have one company doing all the same lettering.”

She also expressed a concern about dealing with warranty issues if the vendor isn’t local.

“There’s a lot of decisions that have to be made,” she said.

Township Treasurer Cathy Gross said, “We’re getting educated as we go.”

Trustee Ken Hornak asked if the township would reclaim the cost of the columbarium.

Kukulis explained that by building the entire columbarium, the cost savings will make it easier to recover the cost of the columbarium as the niches will be more affordable.

Gross commented that ashes are more popular than graves now.

“We’re going to have to front the cost,” Kukulis said.

Supervisor Bob Corrin said, “First, we have to decide on the design.”

Trustee Pete Hemgesberg suggested leaving out the center unit and placing benches in the center. Other board members agreed.

Trustee Bill Hedrich asked if the vendor would visit with the whole cemetery committee.

Kukulis agreed; but wants to check with other local vendors as well.

The cemetery committee will meet with vendors before the next board meeting.

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