With a master plan on the table, Dickinson is looking at adding a second mausoleum to the site located at the corner of 14th Street East and 10th Avenue East, north of Interstate 94, in the coming year.
Architects Brian Gregoire and Alec Johnson of GT Architecture presented a proposed Mausoleum Masterplan during the April 6 Dickinson City Commission meeting at City Hall, which would create a mirroring mausoleum north of its existing counter structure. The decision to create a new mausoleum has been in the works for the past couple of years as spaces are becoming filled, with already 80-90% of the current spaces purchased.
“The mausoleum has been nearing capacity. The demand for niches and crypts have been increasing considerably versus regular cemetery burials,” Public Works Director Gary Zuroff said. “In Public Works here, you do a lot of things. This is my first mausoleum I’ve been involved in, but it is interesting especially now with the niches and mausoleums. Now that we’ve worked on this, I’ve noticed in different areas there’s niche parks, there’s different columbariums, there’s a variety out there. I think what we have here looks really good but there’s a lot of variety we could do.”
Located on Dickinson’s northeast side, the existing mausoleum was constructed in the mid-1990s in two phases on 4 acres of property with a trail on the east side and a row of pine trees dividing the lot. It currently has approximately 432 crypts and niches.
Niches are part of the exterior of the mausoleum and the crypts are both interior and exterior of the structure. The crypt is where the casket is located whereas the niche is where the urn is rested.
With the new proposed plan, there would be some columbariums for niches in the center of the two mausoleums and would serve as additional spaces. The plan also proposes an additional parking lot toward the east side of the mausoleums, giving access to funerals and for those who want to visit the mausoleum site during inclement weather, Gregoire noted, adding, niches would be located in both the exterior and interior of the new mausoleum.
When doing research for the proposed mausoleum, Gregoire noted that most mausoleums are church-orientated and not associated with a city’s public works department.
“... It’s truly non-denominational. Even from talking with the funeral homes, there’s not one denomination that’s using it more than the other. It’s just, for whatever reason, people want to be a little more green in terms of their final remains. They don’t have an affiliation with the church where they have associated the cemeteries with certain churches. They have a variety of reasons for wanting to be at the mausoleum in lieu of your traditional cemetery," Gregoire said.
It’s taken approximately 25 years for the existing mausoleum to full up, Johnson noted.
“It’s really filling up quickly as people's mindset's kind of change and sooner or later, we need this here so that we have a place for our future. And that’s going to be coming up here pretty quick and so that is how this all came together,” Johnson said.
Johnson confirmed city plans to operate at a net zero, recouping costs associated with the project through pricing crypts and niches to the overall project costs and divided by the number of available spaces. Johnson noted that cemeteries and mausoleums in Bismarck and Mandan have rates set at two to three times more than Dickinson. He proposed looking at a “maus-priced increase,” and the city would be able to recoup the dollars required to do the addition.
“What we found out is that basically the demand for the niche or the urn space is becoming greater as we go along. And right now, I think in Dickinson it’s about 40% of people are choosing the cremation route. So where originally when the first mausoleum was put together, there wasn’t that great of a need for the niches,” Johnson said. “The niche space is becoming basically the more sought-after space. So putting some of that niche space on the inside helps to add to that need.
As of now, there are only 9 niche spaces left and 41 crypt spaces. The city will revisit this topic down the road, as plans become more finalized.