The city of Soldotna appropriated $300,000 to expand its cemetery, which is reaching maximum capacity.
The Soldotna City Council voted unanimously at their Wednesday meeting to appropriate $300,000 to pay for the rest of the design work needed and to complete the expansion, which will focus on the veterans area of the park and other flat and upright marker locations.
The expansion will fill the community’s needs for the next decade, Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen said at the meeting.
“It’s fairly critical we move forward with this next phase of expansion,” Queen said at the meeting.
The Soldotna Community Memorial Park on Redoubt Avenue opened to the community and area residents in 2011. Since then, lots have been filling up fast.
“Our cemetery is filling up with reservations rapidly, not occupants, reservations and we do have a limited amount of space,” City Clerk Shellie Saner said at a Dec. 12 city council meeting.
Initially, the park included plot areas for burials with both flat and upright markers, a columbarium with granite niches for cremains, a memorial wall where plaques are placed for loved ones and a designated area for veterans and their children.
In 2015, the city constructed an additional 101 full-size plots and a row of smaller plots for cremains.
There are currently no standard plots in the veterans section and lawn area standard plots are running low, a Jan. 14 memo from Project Manager Lee Frey to the council said.
Queen said the city is working on designing an overall master plan for the park, to identify future phases of construction at full build-out.
The effort to open the park was years in the making, Queen previously told the Clarion, and involved significant public involvement and searching for the perfect location.
Queen said the park was made possible through a partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which sold 10 acres of land — adjacent to 7 acres of city-owned land — to Soldotna for $2. Because of the arrangement, the park is available to all area residents, not just those who reside in the city.