At its first meeting of the year, the Issaquah Cemetery Board walked through the 2019 cemetery work plan.
The cemetery board works to manage Issaquah’s Hillside Cemetery facilities and planning, and has done so since it was established in 1983. Board members Randy Darst, Barbara Wood, and Fred McWhirter were joined by Allen Flintoft of Flintoft’s Funeral Home and Crematory as well as Issaquah Parks and Recreation director Jeff Watling, parks deputy director Brian Berntsen, and parks operations supervisor Matt Mechler.
Watling discussed the cemetery’s 2019 work plan with the group, focusing on three big topics the board will be faced with in the coming year — working on a formal agreement with Flintoft’s on cemetery sales partnership, working on a budget appropriation for lower cemetery area and columbarium, and site plan work for the cemetery and the entire hillside park.
Watling said the cemetery and Flintoft’s have had a longstanding relationship with regards to the cemetery. As property owners, the city provides the bulk of maintenance and Flintoft’s handles the business front end of the site through the sales of lots on the site.
The city, board and Flintof’s will work on formalizing the relationship with an official agreement this year. The agreement will clearly define roles, responsibilities and the split of revenue to ensure the cemetery can be maintained and operated long into the future.
The board, Watling and Flintoft agreed that creating a formal agreement would benefit every group for ongoing day-to-day operations, capital reinvestment and long-term care.
The goal is to have a document complete by June, Watling said, so getting a draft finalized this spring will be the first step in the process. The cemetery board then will recommend that the city council approve the agreement, and the council will ultimately need to adopt it.
Watling said site planning within the existing footprint of the cemetery was another focus for 2019. The cemetery is planning to open a second section of the property for lot sales, and the board is planning to add a new columbarium this year. That site planning work would inform discussions on the future of the cemetery during the agreement draft process.
Within the capital budget the board has authority to spend some of the cemetery fund budget for an additional columbarium. The board has the flexibility to use the funding in 2019 or not, Watling added.