A NEW memorial placed in Kangaroo Valley Cemetery to house people’s ashes has not been well received by locals.
The Valley is the first site to trial one of Shoalhaven City Council’s new polished granite columbaria.
The column, which can hold up to 16 urns of ashes, has been placed in front of the memorial niche wall, which has been full for a number of years.
“The existing wall has been full for two years or more, so there is no niche space available so we came up with this idea as an alternative to building another wall,” said Shoalhaven City Council’s Bereavement Services manager Pierre Duparte.
“It appears in its current location it is not popular with residents.
“Given the number of niches taken up in Kangaroo Valley has been less than two every couple of years, we felt this was a wonderful economic way to address the need.”
He said there had been several complaints from people who have family members in the wall behind it, saying “it spoils the view of the Valley”.
“We have looked at other locations within the Valley Cemetery but this was the best one,” he said.
“We have extended the memorial garden in the front of the wall and that has proven successful and provided an additional 40 spaces that will cater for needs well into the future.”
This column holds 16 niches and Mr Duparte said it would service a region like the Valley for five to eight years.
“In my mind, and I’ve been in the industry for 30 years, the columns are distinctive and unique.
“And others who work in the cemetery and deal with people on a day to day basis thought this was a wonderful compliment to provide adequate wall niche space for the Valley Cemetery,” he said.
He said residents also needed to be mindful of the need to do this cost effectively, as council has expectations that each cemetery pay its own way.
“The cost of planning and constructing a similar wall, something that is in line with what is there now, I wouldn’t expect much change out of $100,000,” he said.
“And plans for something like that are unfunded at the moment and would take some time.
“We can construct and put the column in place for $6000.
“It is a wonderfully cost-effective way to have a stylish, individual memorial space.
“And they can be easily moved if the landscape changes, we can relocate them if we want or need to.”
This alternative to memorial walls came after discussions with the landscape architect who was working on the designs of the future expansion of the lawn cemetery at Worrigee.
The columns are used extensively in Europe and will feature at the Worrigee complex as it expands in the future.
“I can see these columns being wonderful family memorials,” Mr Duparte said.
Instead of having 100 or 200 niches in a wall, these columns can hold up to 16, 24 or 32.
“They could easily be adapted to be family memorials,” he said.
“We are currently redesigning the next expansion of the Worrigee Cemetery for coming years and it will feature memorial gardens and make use of more individual memorial type places. I can definitely see us incorporating a number of these columns in that design.
“I can envisage small glades being developed, with pathways surrounded by foliage, opening into open spaces for individual columns or having more than one on a site.
“We are actually looking at a six-sided version for Worrigee.”
He said on the basis of complaints from the Valley residents there were already thoughts of removing the column and relocating it to the Worrigee Lawn cemetery.
“In the right location I see them as the way of the future, I thought the Valley was perfect. It appears I may have been wrong and I’ll take that on the chin,” he said.