Cemetery district on ballot | ParkRecord.com

Cemetery district on ballot

It’s a matter of life and death. Residents in unincorporated Snyderville have no local resting place when they die. That could change with Summit County Proposition #3, which allows residents to vote to create a Snyderville Basin Cemetery District in the upcoming November elections.

"What’s fueled the issue is people have approached the council and said, ‘I’ve lost a loved one who lived in the county in the Kimball Junction area we have no place to bury them,’ and ‘We live in the county and we’d like to be buried in the county,’" Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said.

He said the bulk of the residents in the Basin live in unincorporated areas and don’t have a cemetery.

"And the law requires that if you want to have a district you ask the affected people," Jasper said. "You draw some lines and say here are the boundaries. Then you let people decide if they want one."

If created, the district will encompass the same boundaries as Park City School District, minus the area within Park City proper.

Summit County Council hasn’t nailed down a location for the potential cemetery yet, but they’ve looked at a few spots and parcels within the PRI open space next to the Olympic Park and the Boyer Research Park are at the top of the list.

The county already owns the 300-acre PRI property. And when the purchase was made, a five to 10-acre section near the Bear Hollow Subdivision had been looked at as a potential cemetery site, County Councilmember John Hanrahan said.

"Five to 10 acres would cover our estimated needs for many decades," he said.

But after looking at the site, county officials aren’t sure if it will work for a cemetery.

"The lower land is wetland and the upper land is pretty stony rock soil. At some point were going to go with our county engineer and test that area," Jasper said.

Also, some residents have said they want the land as open space, Jasper said.

But if the county does decide to use that land, it would already be paid for.

Others have been against the cemetery altogether, saying it should be left up to the private sector, that if there’s a market for a cemetery, the private sector will fill it.

"There’s a lot of private cemeteries out there," Jasper said. "But typically, county or city-sponsored cemetery districts tend to be cheaper. For a thousand years, the churches did it. But it’s been more traditional in this country that counties and cities create areas for cemeteries."

How much the cemetery would cost is still up in the air, as it may be largely determined on whether or not the county needs to acquire land.

"Estimated costs are all over the map, because it’s a huge difference whether it’s on county property or if we have to go out and buy it," Hanrahan said, adding he is in favor of charging user fees to pay for the cemetery’s operating costs.

"My personal view is that it should be covered entirely by user fees," Hanrahan said. "I don’t see why someone who doesn’t use it or will never use it should have to pay for the cemetery."

Jasper said he thinks the county could break even by selling burial plots and charging people to be buried there.

If residents vote to create the cemetery district, the county will then appoint a board to move forward with gathering information, such as what people want in the cemetery, such as a memorial wall, and what the associated costs would be. If the board decides to levy a tax, the county will put it on a future ballot.

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