Original posted on azcentral.com by Maria Polletta
Mayor John Lewis likes to joke that you couldn’t officially be born in Gilbert until 2006, when the town got its first hospital.
Under that logic, he says, you still can’t die there.
Ninety-six years after its incorporation, the town of 240,000 has yet to build a cemetery within its borders, forcing residents to travel to Mesa, Queen Creek and other nearby communities to lay their loved ones to rest.
Residents and officials alike have grown impatient with the lack of a Gilbert option in recent years, but the wait could soon end: The town is nearing the finish of its negotiations with Bunker Family Funerals & Cremation to establish a cemetery on 22 acres of park land near Greenfield and Queen Creek roads.
The cemetery’s first phase, expected to accommodate more than 9,000 burials, could open in spring 2018 if talks and construction go as planned. Conceptual drawings for the full site — estimated to have a 75-year capacity once operational — show a traditional burial ground, funeral home, cremation garden, mausoleum and private estates surrounded by crisp lawns and scenic ponds.
“I’ve been here for 30-plus years, and I remember it being a big deal the day the first big grocery store came to town, and it being a big deal the day the medical center opened,” Lewis said. “This is another big deal in terms of our life cycle and an important part of our future.”
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