Grave markers stand in Kenai’s cemetery on Friday, March 17, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. With the number of open plots in the cemetery shrinking, the Kenai City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a moratorium on purchasing graves in advance for those still living. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai passes moratorium on grave reservations

Kenai’s cemetery plots can belong only to the dead, following the Kenai City Council’s unanimous decision on Wednesday to put a moratorium on gravesite reservations for those still living.

In January, Kenai’s 9.56-acre cemetery had about 65 unused plots, according to previous Clarion reporting. The Kenai Parks and Recreation Department was then beginning to discuss raising the price of a standard grave plot from $250 to $1,000, based on similar pricing in other local cemeteries such as Soldotna’s and Homer’s. Though discussions over fees are still ongoing — taking place most recently at the Kenai Parks and Recreation Commission’s March 2 meeting — the potential raise has already had effects.

Following the proposal, “there was a voluminous purchase of standard plots to be reserved for future interment whereby leaving us with a little over half (of the open plots) remaining for purchase,” wrote Kenai City Clerk Sandra Modigh in a memo to the council recommending the moratorium. Modigh’s office is in charge of reserving cemetery plots and sponsored the moratorium — which, passed by resolution, goes into effect immediately.

According to the resolution text, the moratorium will last “until such time as additional space is available.”

Across Floatplane Road from the existing cemetery are about 4.10 acres of cleared city land that have long been reserved for cemetery expansion. Opening this space for new graves still requires city investment, according to Kenai Parks and Recreation Director Bob Frates, who in January gave a rough estimate that it would cost $300,000 – $500,000 for needed preparatory work, including surveying, fencing, and plotting grave sites. The text of Wednesday’s moratorium resolution states that the cemetery expansion may not be ready for three years.

The moratorium has one exception: reservations by living immediate family members of those buried in the cemetery will still be allowed.

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

Grave markers stand in Kenai’s cemetery on Friday, March 17, 2017 in Kenai, Alaska. With the number of open plots in the cemetery shrinking, the Kenai City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a moratorium on purchasing graves in advance for those still living. (Ben Boettger/Peninsula Clarion)

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