As burial space decreases in Kenai’s cemetery — pictured here on March 17, 2017 — the Kenai City Council is taking steps on a long-planned expansion. On Wednesday council members voted unanomously to fund engineering plans for converting the vacant lot adjacent to the existing cemetery across Floatplane Road into new cemetery grounds. Construction of the expansion may begin this year. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai funds cemetery expansion plans

As burial space shrinks in the Kenai cemetery on Floatplane Road, the city government is taking steps toward the long-planned construction of new cemetery space across the street.

“It’s a project long overdue, and we’re pretty excited about it,” Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates said of the expansion.

The architecture firm Klauder and Associates drew plans for a new burial ground on 4.10-acre vacant lot on the opposite side on Floatplane Road from the existing cemetery. On Wednesday the Kenai city council unanimously appropriated $17,183 to Nelson Engineering to expand that design into a detailed work plan. Nelson was the lowest of five bidders on the project — the highest was $30,991.

“This takes the conceptual design and gives us a civil engineering design that we can then construct,” Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander said of the appropriation.

Ostrander told council members the expansion project doesn’t have a timeline, but that “we’re hoping to still have construction this season.”

“Whether or not it’s completed this year, I’m not certain,” Ostrander said.

The eventual construction will involve grading and planting the lot, surveying grave plots, building a parking lot and turnaround, installing a well and related infrastructure, and erecting a fence — similar in front to the aluminum barred fence around the existing cemetery and chainlink along the back of the lot, Frates said. Current estimates for the construction cost, he said, were between $260,000 and $250,00.

Kenai’s existing 9.56 acres of cemetery space continues to fill up rapidly. There were 65 open cemetery plots in January 2017, when Parks and Recreation considered raising cemetery fees from $250 for a standard plot to $1,000. Reservations poured in ahead of the increase, so that about half those spots remained two months later when the city council closed reservations by the still-living until the cemetery expansion is complete. Now about 20 plots remain, said Kenai City Clerk Jamie Heinz.

The cemetery’s 100-niche columbarium — a structure installed in August 2015 to house cremated ashes — has yet to have any urns sealed in it, Frates said.

Frates estimated the expanded cemetery would have roughly 350 standard plots, 180 infant plots, and 360 plots for cremation urns. The area surrounding the new cemetery lot is also designated for future cemetery expansion, to be built as needed, Frates said. City-owned property to the west is marked for the next phase of expansion, followed by the land to the north.

In addition to creating more space, Frates said the expansion would allow his department to work better in the new cemetery grounds than in the present one, where graves were laid out haphazardly in Kenai’s early days.

“This will give us an opportunity to kind of coherently lay out the cemetery in the most logical order,” Frates said. “That’s one of the issues with some of the cemeteries throughout the state — these things were often times put in years and years ago, and you’ve got plots running in all kinds of funky directions. This will definitely provide a lot more efficiency in our operation, in that everything’s going to be north, south, east, west oriented. Location of plots, finding plots will be much simpler.”

Reach Ben Boettger at

More in News

Like a number of public buildings, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District building in Soldotna is closed.
                                Victoria Petersen / Peninsula Clarion
Assembly passes emergency ordinances

The Clerk’s Office set up remote ways for residents to call in and speak on the emergency ordinances.

Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion 
                                The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank is photographed on March 26.
‘Impact here is quite significant’

Food banks keeping peninsula fed

COVID-19. (Courtesy the CDC)
Anchor Point man dies out of state from COVID-19

The state of Alaska reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday on its website.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a Friday, April 3, 2020 press conference in the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Office of the Governor)
State recommends wearing face coverings in public

Number of Kenai Peninsula cases grows to 10; state tally rises to 157

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink participates via teleconference in the state’s daily press briefing on the new coronavirus on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Courtesy photo)
State changes website, COVID-19 reporting

The state’s case daily count will be based on the numbers reported as of 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion
                                Soldotna’s Sheryl Nelson and her son, Robert, ski at Tsalteshi Trails on Tuesday, just outside of Soldotna.
Breath of fresh air

Challenges, pleasures of staying active during coronavirus threat

The RavnAir kiosk stands empty at the Kenai Airport on Thursday, April 2, 2020. The company announced Thursday they were cutting all service by 90%. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Ravn cuts air service by 90%

The group will maintain service to their “essential” air service communities, including Kenai, Homer.

Nikiski man faces sexual abuse, attempted murder charges

The man is being held without bail and is facing 22 charges.

Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum presents at a press conference addressing the extension of two mandates issued by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in response to the spread of COVID-19, on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 in Anchorage, Alaska. (Courtesy photo)
10 COVID-19 new cases reported, mandates extended

Eatery dine-in services, bars and entertainment venues to be closed indefinitely.

Most Read