Astoria will develop a master plan for the Ocean View Cemetery.
On Monday night, the City Council authorized the Parks and Recreation Department to issue a request for proposals for a cemetery master plan they hope will foster “sustainable development, financial stability and consistent maintenance” at the sprawling 70-acre property in Warrenton.
All proposals will be due by 5 p.m. on May 30, and the city hopes to have a completed master plan by December.
The cemetery is owned and maintained by the city but used by communities across Clatsop County. Warrenton city leaders and people who have loved ones buried there have criticized Astoria for the state of the cemetery, saying the grounds often appear overgrown and neglected.
City Manager Brett Estes and parks staff point to a constrained budget and lack of resources for consistent and intensive maintenance. But Jonah Dart-McLean, the parks maintenance supervisor, and former Parks Director Angela Cosby found ways to dedicate more staff and volunteer time to the cemetery last year.
Estes told the City Council on Monday that he believes the care of the cemetery has improved. The cemetery is not self-sustaining and relies heavily on the city’s general fund.
Residents in Astoria support Ocean View through property tax dollars, he said, “for a cemetery which is located outside of our city limits.”
One of the City Council’s goals for the next two years is to enhance the Parks Department’s long-term financial sustainability.
Whoever is hired to develop a master plan for Ocean View will be asked to craft a document that includes a strategic business and operational plan, evaluating operations and laying out possible future alternatives for the property. The plan will identify marketing opportunities and investments intended to both enhance the cemetery and generate revenue.
About 40 acres of the cemetery are in active use, but the master plan would look at the entire acreage, including an additional 30 acres of undeveloped land to the north.
After researching what other cities have done, Parks Director Tim Williams expects the cost of the master plan to land somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000.
City Councilor Joan Herman questioned the expense.
“One hundred thousand dollars is what the county and cities just paid for the housing study,” she said. “Just, again, my ignorant self thinks, well, that would be much more complicated to do, so I’m wondering why it might cost as much as $100,000.”
But she was satisfied with Williams’ answer, comparing the master plan costs to what other cities have seen, and voted with the rest of the City Council to issue the request for proposals.