Archive for Monday, May 15, 2006

Officials: Fast-tracking state cemetery would have drawbacks

May 15, 2006


— A "fast track" designation would allow for burials to start sooner at the state's new veterans cemetery, developers said - but at a financial and aesthetic cost.

The current plan calls for all 25 acres of the cemetery, to be near Fort Riley, to be constructed at once. It would include 15 burial sections, with space for about 10,000 graves, along with a shelter and an administrative and maintenance center.

That would require about a year of planning and design, a wait for federal funds to be approved and then another year to 14 months of construction - meaning no burials could be held there until around October 2008.

The fast track plan, developers told a veterans group last week, would develop the front section of the cemetery first and open it up to burials in late 2007.

The cemetery at Fort Riley is running out of space. George Webb, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs, said there are fewer than 50 unreserved plots there.

Having the new cemetery open sooner would help to ease that crunch, project architect Kyle Morrison said, but the fast track plan has some built-in disadvantages.

The cost of construction would go up because of the need for separate construction bids, he said - but the amount of money allocated for the cemetery would remain the same, meaning only nine burial sections could be constructed.

Graves would also have to be dug deeper because no grave liners or vaults would be available in the first section, Morrison said.

Also, Morrison said, construction would be going on in the second stage of the cemetery while graveside services were being conducted in the open section.

While it is taking comment from veterans and state lawmakers, the veterans affairs commission will have the final say on the project. Other state veterans cemeteries are in WaKeeney, Winfield and Fort Dodge.


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