By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
“Please don’t bury me, down in that cold, cold ground. I’d rather have ’em cut me up and pass me all around … Throw my brain in a hurricane and the blind can have my eyes, the deaf can take both of my ears if they don’t mind the size.”
– John Prine
Not everyone is as cavalier with their bodies after they wear out as iconic folk singer John Prine. Some prefer to be planted in a cemetery and let it go at that. In any case, the Carbondale Board of Trustees and town staffers determined more than a year ago they’d better start scouting around for more ground to handle more graves because Hillcrest Cemetery (White Hill) plots are sold out, and Evergreen Cemetery on 8th Street sees more and more grave markers every year.
The upshot to the cemetery issue is a recent land swap between the town, and Paul and Celia Nieslanik, which should ensure numerous burial plots for many years to come.
“This was long term and a fairly unique opportunity to get cemetery space,” Town Manager Jay Harrington told The Sopris Sun. “(Land) in the Roaring Fork Valley is hard to come by.”
The trustees formally approved the land swap on Tuesday night. The swap transfers to the Nieslaniks 1.38 acres of town-owned land abutting (more or less) the Carbondale Nature Park. The town gets 1.38 acres on the west and south side of Hillcrest Cemetery.
The Nieslaniks still own 172 acres adjacent to the Hillcrest Cemetery on what is known as the East Mesa.
Carbondale’s two cemeteries date back more than 100 years. The Hillcrest Cemetery southeast of town is not inside the town limits and the road that bisects Nieslanik ranch land is not a public road. “The town has an easement (through the property) for cemetery purposes,” Harrington said. “It’s only supposed to be used to get to the cemetery … It goes through private property.”
The burial plots at Hillcrest have been sold out for several years. Town Clerk Cathy Derby said there is a “considerable number” of plots available at Evergreen Cemetery.
Evergreen Cemetery, at the north end of Eighth Street, sat outside the town limits for decades, until the town annexed property in what is now Roaring Fork Village in the 1970s.
Harrington said the town does not expect to turn its new White Hill property in a cemetery for at least two years. For one thing, the Nieslaniks filled in the property last year and it hasn’t yet settled. The town hasn’t determined how many plots it can create in the new space. Eventually, the land will be graded, laid out and fenced. The town will not, however, install a sprinkler system in the new cemetery.
“It will be just like the existing one,” Harrington said.
Harrington said he doesn’t yet know the total costs to the town for the swap. The town commissioned an appraisal for both pieces of property to determine like values. The closing costs were $4,000 to $5,000, which the town will split with the Nieslaniks.
Buying a burial plot
Town Clerk Cathy Derby handles burial plot purchases and provided The Sopris Sun with the following information (this is a condensed list):
• Plots cannot be resold on the open market. If the owner wants to sell to sell his/her plot, he/she must sell it back to the town at the original purchase price.
• Prices for a 5×10 foot plot are: $250 (for in town residents), $1,000 (for out-of-town residents within the 81623 area) and $5,000 (for outside of 81623 area).