A new wall containing niches for urns was completed Friday, May 17, and renovation of the cemetery’s office is slated to be completed within the next few weeks. Operators also soon plan to install pipes and plant grass at the southern edge of the cemetery to make room for more burial plots.
It all makes for a busy time at the graveyard, which stands about three miles north of Patterson between Sequoia Avenue and Rogers Road on Highway 33.
“There will be about six more months of real busy; then it will be real quiet like a normal cemetery,” said Bruce Thompson, president of the Patterson Cemetery District’s board of trustees.
The district, which oversees operation of the cemetery, receives money from property tax revenues and burial costs, and also has a trust fund of endowment donations that have been given for maintenance projects.
District board members wanted to spend the money while it was available.
The niche wall and seeding project are expected to cost about $60,000 combined, according to Walter Rea Jr., secretary and treasurer for the cemetery district board.
The wall built by Martinez-based C&L Construction contains 72 niches with granite coverings where urns can be stored. A newly paved concrete area contains seven spaces for additional similar-sized pods in the future and a space where a gazebo eventually could be built to serve as an open-air chapel for funeral services, Rea said.
Thompson noted that cremations have become more popular because of their relatively low cost compared with using traditional gravesites.
Cemetery superintendent Bryan Bingham expected that the new niche wall will receive lots of use.
While the cemetery had a small area for storing urns in the past, it was small and difficult to maintain, Thompson said.
“It’s adequate, but we were never really thrilled with it,” he said.
New piping was installed in the dirt area surrounding the niche wall will be installed within the next few weeks, and new seeding for grass is expected to be planted shortly thereafter.
In addition to those projects, Rea expects that $55,000 to $65,000 worth of improvements to the cemetery office will be completed within the next few weeks.
New additions will include a conference room where the cemetery board can have meetings rather than meeting at Rea’s office as they do now. The end goal is to make the building, which used to be a house, more like a regular office, cemetery district officials said.
“We’re redoing the building to make it more business-like,” Thompson said. “It had gotten pretty run down.”
All the new projects come after the board opted in 2005 to use interest money from its endowment to repave roads, build a storage shed, install new restrooms and improve drainage. During the following years, board members approved trees to be planted and equipment to be purchased.
Looking ahead, the district eventually aims to complete a wrought-iron fence in front of the cemetery. Right now, a portion of that area is bordered with a chain-link fence.
Cemetery operators would love to work with various service groups to finish the fence project, the remainder of which is expected to take $50,000 to complete, Rea said.
In the meantime, Boy Scout Troop 81 recently completed painting the portion of the wrought-iron fence that does exist. Troop member John McCord led the project as he seeks to get his Eagle Scout badge.
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