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Burial plot rates may rise at cemetery
Alta Vista Cemetery employees dig out a hole for planting a new willow tree. From left, they are Lee Wood, Jason Sisk, Harold Weber and Stephen Parker.

Proposed rates at Alta Vista Cemetery

Burial plots
Old section: $1,000 for city residents, up from $700
Old section: $1,200 for noncity residents, up from $800
New section: $1,200 for city residents, up from $1,000
New section: $1,500 for noncity residents, up from $1,100

Niche space: $700-$1,450, up from $600-$1,350
Crypt space: $3,910-$12,006, up from $3,400-$10,800

Gainesville City Council meeting
When: 5:30 tonight
Where: Public Safety Complex’s Municipal Court Room, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

The price of burial spaces may be rising at Gainesville’s Alta Vista Cemetery.

City Council is set to give its first look tonight at an ordinance that would increase prices at the city-owned final resting place for the first time in more than a decade.

“It’s kind of a readjustment, and we’re trying to do it (in such a way) to be thoughtful about people, especially in this time of need,” Superintendent Tommy Hunt said Monday.

“We don’t want to match our competitors in this. We’re just trying to offset some of the costs we have in maintaining the cemetery.”

Lawn mowers the city used to buy for $5,000-$6,000 are now running about $10,000, “and we basically wear one out every year,” Hunt said.

If the ordinance is approved, the cost of a traditional grave burial in either the old or new section of the cemetery will go up for both residents and nonresidents of Gainesville by $200-$400.

Also, the city has proposed an increase in mausoleum spaces.

The 140-year-old cemetery, which is bounded by several busy city streets, including Ga. 369/Jesse Jewell Parkway, expanded in 2004 and built the mausoleum.

Hunt first brought the fee hike proposal to City Council in May.

“The reason this has taken so long (in getting considered for approval) is we had 160 graves on hold for people, and I wanted (the customers) to have an opportunity to pay for them at the current rate,” Hunt said.

The city also is looking at using one vendor to dig the graves.

At the May meeting, Hunt showed the council several pictures of improper grave digging, with shallow plots leaving some caskets exposed.

Problems especially apply to out-of-town funeral homes, he said.

“I’ve had them leave graves 3 feet high, refusing to get rid of extra dirt,” Hunt said. “And I don’t have a way of forcing them to come back and fix it, especially if they have one funeral every two years up here.”

Such messes take an emotional toll on families “seeing their loved one left in such a state,” Hunt said.

Once the ordinance gets final approval, possibly in January, the new rates go into effect. Today’s meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway in Gainesville.

The vendor, which would be chosen through a bidding process, probably wouldn’t start work until spring, Hunt said.

The cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is the home of several notable people. The most famous and visited grave is that of Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, who was Gen. Robert E. Lee’s second-in-command during the Civil War.

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