SHERIDAN – Members of Sheridan City Council unanimously approved a new master plan for Sheridan Municipal Cemetery at its regular meeting Monday. The plan calls for improved roads, addition of a walking path, repair of broken monuments and updated records, among other enhancements.
A committee of city staff, community members and an engineering consultant drafted the cemetery master plan in a series of near-weekly meetings held since December.
According to Mayor Dave Kinskey, the committee was charged with making the cemetery a place of honor for the deceased, as well as making it a more relevant and utilized part of Sheridan for the living.
“It’s a great place to see the living integrated with the dead,” committee member Tony Forman said. Forman is pastor of Cornerstone Community Church and is at the cemetery often when officiating funerals.
He said being on the committee helped him think about the cemetery in a different way as a place for quiet reflection and exercise.
Other committee members included history teacher Tyson Emborg and community member Tom Kinnison. City staff members who contributed were Nic Bateson, public works director, Chuck Carbert, parks superintendent and John Herbert, chief groundskeeper at the cemetery. Megan Crow with MC2 Engineering was hired as a consultant.
“As we look to the future of the cemetery, now is the time to start planning in terms of getting the records, and the roads and the infrastructure up to date. It’s just a process we need to start as a community,” Emborg said.
Kinskey said the city does not currently have funds in place to complete all the improvements in the plan, but he looks forward to working on them over the next several years as funding becomes available.
The perimeter of the cemetery is the first priority, according to Crow
“We want to encourage people to use the cemetery on a parks and recreation basis,” Crow told city council members.
The road around the cemetery is 1.7 miles long. It will be widened to 18 feet and paved. A 5-foot wide paved pathway will be added next to the perimeter road to encourage walking and other leisure activities.
Dogs may be allowed on leash, and the committee hopes to eventually connect the pathway to the Sheridan Pathways system on Leopard Street on the north end and the Huntington Area on the south end.
Crow recommended vacating 1.5 miles of cemetery roadway that are not used and building four new parking areas to alleviate congestion.
Cemetery records are another priority, according to Crow. Judy Slack, of the library’s Wyoming Room, has updated and corrected 4,000 of the 14,000 records on hand for the cemetery. Some records have had as many as 300 errors per page in spelling, dates and other information.
The committee has recommended buying software called Cemetery Information Management System, which is used by the Campbell County Cemetery. The software will computerize all burial information into one database that can be utilized by the Wyoming Room, the City Clerk’s office and the public.
The master plan also addressed how to expand the cemetery. Remaining plots available for sale could be depleted in one to two years, according to the plan. The committee hopes to approach leaders from other stakeholders such as the Elks, Eagles and Masons to inquire about obtaining portions of their unused plots. Expansion into the 15 acres west of the cemetery known as the Bellevue Area is also an option.
The total proposed budget for cemetery improvements is approximately $1.8 million.
In other business, city council approved the WESCO Commercial Park rezone of 14 acres of land southwest of Heartland Drive from Business 1 to Business 2 on third reading.