Dillon looks to expand cemetery with multi-stage master plan
As the spaces of the Dillon Cemetery have filled slowly over the years, the town of Dillon worked to create a master plan to expand the historic resting grounds.
“It’s something we haven’t talked a lot about up here, but we’re running out of room,” Dillon public works director Scott O’Brien said.
He added that 75 to 80 percent of the plots at the cemetery are already sold.
The planned expansion would more than double the amount of spaces available in the cemetery, adding 3,313 plots to the existing 2,350. In addition, it would allow room for cremation products in a design for a small cremation garden.
Brad Bailey, the Cemetery Advisory Committee’s planning and zoning representative, said the committee asked for a master plan just over a year ago.
“I don’t look forward to resting in it someday, but I look forward to building it someday,” Bailey said.
While the master plan has not yet been implemented, it would set a blueprint for Dillon to be able to ask for grants to start work on the project. As other graveyards around the county are filling, Dillon is one of the few remaining options.
“We’re approaching this as Summit County’s cemetery in the future. We’re the only ones with the space,” Mayor Pro-Tem Louis Skowyra said.
Not only would the first phase of the project add 982 grave plots and space for 400 to 500 cremation products, but it would also create space for parking, a cremation garden and a gathering space for services. In addition, the access road would be realigned with additional signage.
The cost estimate for the first phase ranges from $50,000 per acre to $150,000 per acre, depending on the number of features and amount of landscaping. O’Brien said that the garden was in response to increased requests for cremation options, with memorial markers, boulders, benches and walls formed into a small garden.
“That smaller scale of that cremation garden may speak to folks differently,” said Lane Ledbetter with the Cemetery Planning Resource Alliance. “None of us think about death much. We don’t tend to think of it until we’re faced with it.”
A BURIED HISTORY
Originally established in 1885, the Dillon Cemetery was moved from its original resting place in 1962, when the town was shifted onto the ridge to make room for the reservoir.
“The history is heartbreaking. Having to pick up and move a cemetery is very traumatic,” Lane Ledbetter with the Cemetery Planning Resource Alliance said. “When they had to move it, they said, ‘We’re only moving this once.’ And they picked the best spot possible.”
Ledbetter planned several small touches to incorporate the cemetery’s history into the design, including the placement of interpretive signs near historical sites, historical information at a kiosk and possibly allowing history walks from a gathering space at the center.
“They could learn more about the community learn about the folks buried there, the founding families of Summit County,” Ledbetter said.
The Dillon Cemetery Committee has long been working to identify unmarked graves, with less than 30 left unclaimed throughout the cemetery. According to the Summit Historical Society, several of the first inhabitants of the north end of the county are buried in the cemetery, including drivers of the High Line Stage Coach Route from Georgetown to Leadville, which ceased operations in 1879, as well as miners, homesteaders and county officials.
This historic section of the cemetery will remain unchanged, as it has kept the same alignment since the original move.
“The folks who moved it last time, I was so thankful for their foresight 55 years ago,” Ledbetter added. “They really knew what they were doing, and they did that with a lot of care.”
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