Ocoee seeks to expand cemetery

The City Commission approved the first steps required to purchase land to allow for more burial spaces.

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  • | 4:07 p.m. February 24, 2021
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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The city of Ocoee cemetery, located at 368 E. Geneva St., is out of space, and the Ocoee City Commission wants to change that.

During their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 16, commissioners discussed the need to expand the city’s cemetery and how important it is to look into purchasing a 5-acre parcel of land — partially wetland — located adjacent to the cemetery.

That parcel, just west of the cemetery, is the only land that could be connected to the cemetery easily. The contract for purchase is $425,000, and commissioners and the mayor said they believed purchasing the land is critical.

“We have a contract here … they’ve said they already have someone who wants to buy it, but if we don’t buy the property, then we’re done,” said Mayor Rusty Johnson. “That’s where we can start going back to where we wanted to do with our cemetery — making it the way it should be and (making) it presentable, because we get a lot of complaints sometimes about it.” 

City Planner Michael Rumer said the property owners approached the city in 2019. In the usable portion of the parcel, and depending on the type of grave — traditional burial spots or columbariums — put into place, the city could create more than 500 new burial plots, Rumer said. There also could be two different points of access, Rumer said.

“We could look at it and say, ‘Do we want the front to be off of Geneva, or do we want to make the front back where it used to be back in the day off of Richmond?’” Rumer said. “It’s the only property that we have where we could control what is used there — expand our cemetery and the rest is wetland.”

The city cemetery has not seen an expansion since 2003, when the city created 300 new plots that sold quickly. This purchase would create hundreds of new spots; each would cost $800 for residents and $1,200 for non-residents. The city could use that money to help maintain and nurture the cemetery, Johnson said.

“We do not now get any money, except what we put in from what the city does every year,” Johnson said. “With this amount of money we can make off of lots, we could put it into a fund that would help pay for that cemetery and a person to be there that will handle it — like a full-time superintendent.”

“Unfortunately we have not enforced (rules),” Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen said. “People have put rocks in there, and whirligigs and everything. To me, it’s not respectful. I would like to maintain this.”

To complete the purchase, the city first will need to have an appraisal done, followed by a sales contract that would require commission approval. Finally, the commission would have to approve a budget amendment to take $425,000 out of reserves to pay for the parcel.

The commission directed staff to begin the process and approved spending $5,000 for the appraisal.


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