By. Kyra Case & Elizabeth Hamilton
Approval of master plan to make Sunrise and Sunset cemeteries more accessible.
City commissioners unanimously approved the cemeteries master plan Jan 16. Sunrise and Sunset cemeteries intend to make several positive changes to their infrastructure.
Aaron Stewart, director of Manhattan Parks and Recreation, said this approval was the first step, and parks and rec plans to request funds for the project in March.
“We will ask for permission to go out for a design-build process which will include the pricing and payment we will do for the place,” Stewart said. “Our goal would be to accomplish the majority of the construction in the plan.”
According to the master plan, Sunrise’s maintenance will cost about $3 million while Sunset’s will cost about $6 million.
“We have landscape architects and planners on staff and these are general guidelines to give our governing body an idea,” Stewart said. “If we go out to the design and build process, we will really refine what these numbers are to then give an actual cost to the commission.”
Alfonso Leyva, park planner at parks and rec, said they are using a five-year strategic plan.
“The plans for improvement started in November 2022,” Leyva said. “We went to the city commission several times to discuss improvements on the cemeteries, which had never been done before.”
Sunrise Cemetery has sold approximately half of its 12,000 burial spaces, and plots in Sunset Cemetery are sold out.
“The improvements will help with the ability to make more spots,” Leyva said.
Stewart said the plan aims to make the cemeteries more inclusive and accessible. Several aspects of the cemetery are not currently compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Parks and rec will also create a joint maintenance facility for Sunset Cemetery and Sunset Zoo.
According to the City of Manhattan Parks and Rec master plan, this facility looks to enhance resource sharing, improve safety and training facilities, and space optimization.
Melissa Kirkwood, marketing and development officer at Sunset Zoo, said the joint maintenance facility is beneficial for Sunset Zoo and Sunset Cemetery.
“It [the maintenance facility] was really used more to consolidate and utilize our space more effectively,” Kirkwood said. “We have a maintenance shop here at Sunset Zoo, and Sunset Cemetery also had a maintenance shop. Both facilities were aging quite a bit, and the master plan for the joint maintenance facility came because of the physical location of both of the properties, and that it would be beneficial to have one joint maintenance facility location instead of two. It would be easier for the storage of equipment for both the zoo and the cemetery and some resources would be able to be shared.”
According to the master plan, the city is maintaining a focus on “sustainability, accessibility and honoring evolving preferences” and dedication to the cherished spaces for the future.
“We want to engage the community, and expect the city maintains the grounds of these historical sites,” Leyva said.