SHREWSBURY – With Mountain View Cemetery running out of space, Shrewsbury unveiled plans during an April 5 meeting to expand the cemetery across the street into areas of Prospect Park.
The plan, meant to serve Shrewsbury for the next 50 to 100 years, would use the southernmost 19 acres of Prospect Park closest to Merriam Avenue. The other 76.9 acres of Prospect Park would be preserved and remain unchanged.
The area is within walking distance of the center of town. The project calls for an nontraditional-style cemetery.
“Going back as early as 2019, we wanted a cemetery that was different than Mountain View [Cemetery], and after quite a few discussions, we’ve come up with a design,” Director of Public Works Jeffrey Howland said.
Ricardo Austrich, a manager at BSC Group who designed the project, said that the project design mixes elements of cemeteries and parks.
“[We’re] creating a place that doesn’t look like Mountain View [Cemetery], but something that looks quite different that is responsive to nature and the environment. It’s a place where… people [will] go to commemorate their loved ones [and] also for families to go to enjoy nature for bird walks. The focus is a natural setting that also happens to have landscape and monuments and memorialization,” he said.
Plans call for a “cremation garden” and a “remembrance garden,” which are areas meant to feel more healing and sacred than the average cemetery. The town hopes other additions, like gazebos and water features, will make people feel welcome to frequent the area for both visitation and general use.
Austrich noted the proposed cemetery would be well equipped to accommodate people’s burial preferences. People could have creative memorials at the new site, including communal monuments and engraved stone walls.
“The goal of the plan is to make it flexible so that it serves a variety of different people’s needs,” Austrich said.
Preserving nature was another top priority.
The Davey Tree company surveyed over 2,300 trees in the area to determine the most eco-friendly layout for the project, ultimately reaching what Austrich called a “design that puts the trees first.”
Bill Stendrup, a certified arborist for Davey Tree, said, “Nature and the built environment can coexist for the benefit of people and their communities… so when we were tasked with assessing these trees, we took it quite seriously.”
“We’re trying to make a sustainable cemetery. We’re trying to save as much of nature as possible and as many trees as possible,” Shrewsbury Assistant Director of Public Works Keith Baldinger said.
The town presented only preliminary plans during the meeting, but officials indicated that construction could start as soon as next summer.
Mountain View Cemetery expansion heads to Shrewsbury Town Meeting