Development of a master plan for Astoria’s Ocean View Cemetery took another step forward Monday.
The City Council unanimously approved a bid from Lees and Associates at just under $88,000 to create a facilities master plan for the 70-acre property in Warrenton.
Astoria owns and maintains the cemetery, but it is used by the entire county for burial services.
In recent years, families of loved ones buried at the cemetery and city leaders in Warrenton were especially critical of how the grounds were being kept.
The Astoria Parks and Recreation Department has since dedicated a part-time seasonal worker to grounds maintenance to address the concerns, a move Tim Williams, the parks director, said has significantly reduced the number of complaints.
Astoria city leaders hope a master plan for the cemetery will help enhance the site and explore how the property can generate revenue to be more self-sustaining.
Williams sent notices of a request for proposals to five cemetery planning firms, three of which responded with bids. The bids ranged widely, with the highest bid from Cemetery Resources Planning Alliance at $187,000 and the lowest bid from L.F. Sloane Consulting Group at $39,000.
In a memo to the City Council, Williams recommended the group that submitted a bid in the middle: Lees and Associates at just under $88,000.
City Councilor Joan Herman had some concerns about cost and asked Williams about the wide range between the different bids.
“It’s hard to have that barometer,” he replied. “Sometimes firms just put in a strong high bid just to see if they can get it and then there’s others that just don’t have the resources or qualifications to produce a master plan that we would like here.”
“And you feel like the Lees and Associates bid though … is reasonable for the work scope?” Herman asked.
“I believe so, yes,” Williams said.
Williams anticipated spending between $50,000 and $100,000 on a master plan process.
Lees and Associates’s proposal includes site visits and city staff and stakeholder workshops this summer with the goal of presenting a draft master plan for public comment by the end of September. A final master plan could be in front of the City Council by late November.