Memorial park plans coming together
The words “Vail” and “final resting place” rarely appear in the same sentence. That may change soon.
The Vail Memorial Park Foundation is in the late stages of planning for an 11-acre parcel south of Gore Creek near the East Vail Interstate 70 interchange. Pastor Carl Walker of the Vail Memorial Park board said construction may begin as early as this spring, and the facility will be dedicated some time before next ski season.
The parcel won’t be a cemetery in the strict sense. Park architect Sherry Dorward said there will be no mausoleums or crypts, and no headstones. Rather, it will be a place where people can spread the cremated remains of their late loved ones. Ashes might also be buried, but only in biodegradable urns. And instead of headstones, the departed might be memorialized by having their names carved in a natural rock wall, or on boulders or paving stones scattered around the park.
In addition, there will be “memorial groves” available for those who want to plant trees in memory of their loved ones.
While the site will remain in a mostly natural state, park director Chip Domke said some maintenance will be needed to keep the park usable. Crushed gravel pathways will need to be maintained and kept weed-free, and natural grass will be trimmed from around the memorial wall and boulders. Overall, said Domke, landscaping will be done mostly with a weed trimmer, a backpack full of herbicide and a garden trowel.
The current plan, which has been in the works for about the last 18 months, represents a significant change from earlier ideas for a cemetery in Vail. In the early and mid-1990s, proponents of a cemetery devised a plan for Donovan Park that would include places to bury caskets. It was defeated when presented to voters in 1995.
Walker said the current plan is probably about as much of a cemetery as the town will ever have. However, he added, there isn’t as much demand for casket burials as there once was. Walker said in Colorado, cremation is chosen more than 50 percent of the time.
“In the 11 years I’ve been here I’ve officiated one casket burial,” said Walker. Dorward agreed that the memorial park is probably as close as Vail will ever come to a cemetery in town. “We’ve looked so hard; there’s just no place left for one,” she said.
While the park is set to build this year, the foundation is still looking for about half of its initial endowment, about $600,000. That amount will cover construction costs, a full-time salary for Domke for the park’s first two years and a “perpetual care” fund. Once the park is open, fees for use and memorials will help cover operating costs.
“We’re talking to a few families now about possibly helping us,” said Walker.
For more information about the Vail Memorial Park, call 476-3400, or go to vailmemorialpark.org.
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