Eden Prairie city officials have agreed to take over control and management of Eden Prairie’s oldest cemetery.
At the request of its current caretakers, Eden Prairie Cemetery – like Pleasant Hill Cemetery before it – will come under the city’s control on March 1, folded into the Parks and Recreation Department.
The cemetery at 8810 Eden Prairie Road, nearly 160 years old and the resting place of many pioneers, is forecast to have positive year-end financial balances of between $5,000 and $15,000, even when city staff time is taken into account, according to a financial analysis by the city.
That’s a far cry from the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, transferred to city ownership in 1987. That cemetery, located along Pioneer Trail west of Pax Christi Catholic Community, has a perpetual care fund of $207,970 and an operating fund of $119,030.
Still, the larger Eden Prairie Cemetery comes to the city with a number of capital improvements already completed and plenty of burial plots remaining: more than 700.
City officials further say that assuming control also reduces the confusion that arises from having one local cemetery under city control and the other under association control, and the transfer helps ensure that Eden Prairie Cemetery will be well taken care of well into the future.
“I’m thrilled with this,” said Mayor Ron Case at the city council meeting Feb. 8, when the matter was discussed. “It is absolutely appropriate and a positive thing.”
The cemetery’s association board and in particular its president and caretaker, Mike Rogers, were lauded at Tuesday’s city council meeting for taking good care of the historic cemetery. The association voted Nov. 13 to seek the transfer. In a Jan. 6 story by Eden Prairie Local News, Rogers, 68, said the day-to-day work of tending the cemetery has become too much. He had back surgery about four years ago, according to the story.
Although burials and the sale of cemetery plots vary year to year, Parks Director Jay Lotthammer said city officials are confident that year-end balances going forward will be in that $5,000 to $15,000 range. Some of that is owed to an economy of scale; for example, a city snowplow working along Eden Prairie Road can make a right turn into the cemetery and quickly plow its access road. As well, there are already city staff versed in landscaping and irrigation.
The transfer had been endorsed by the city’s Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Commission, an advisory group.
Mark Weber is executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation. Its board includes several city officials, including Jay Lotthammer, mentioned in this story.