Newsfront - May 6, 2005
A final resting place
Cemetery being planned for Tassajara Road
by Dolores Fox Ciardelli
Anyone looking for a burial plot is aware of the lack of final resting places in and around Danville. The Danville Town Council recently heard a presentation on plans for a 200-acre Creekside Memorial Park being proposed by Corrie Development Corp. on Tassajara Road in unincorporated Contra Costa County. Although the county will have final approval, the developers are seeking endorsements from the five Tri-Valley cities. They will then submit project plans and accompanying environmental materials to the county. This location is close to all the cities, the Town Council was told. "But not too close," said developer Sid Corrie. The cemetery will be able to accommodate 80,000 to 100,000 although when all the phases are completed the figure could go as high as 200,000. The cemetery site is next to Tassajara Creek, with the main entrance off Tassajara Road. There will be two burial areas, with a hill section and family estates. Former San Ramon Mayor Kurt Kinney spearheaded the campaign for a new cemetery when his 29-year-old daughter died in 1998. She suffered a brain aneurysm and fell into a coma June 28, which was to be her wedding day, and died four days later. Kinney soon found that burial space is at a premium in the area. The Tri-Valley Cemetery Committee was formed with representatives from Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore to search for a site that would be convenient to their cities and appropriate as a final resting place. Councilman Mike Shimansky represented Danville on the committee. Sid Corrie and Jim Parsons of P/A Design Resources Inc. explained to the Danville Town Council members that environmental concerns had been addressed and the development was avoiding the wetlands. "To me it's a perfect use of open space," Councilwoman Candace Anderson commented. Vice Mayor Karen Stepper asked about traffic impacts of the project. "That will be looked at when the application goes in," Parsons said. "I was on the committee," said Councilman Shimansky, "and we looked at a number of places. Each had problems." But he approved of this plan and made a motion to put the item on a future agenda. Indeed options are limited for burials, said Dennis Steiner, managing partner of Wilson and Kratzer Chapel of San Ramon Valley on Hartz Way. The Alamo-Lafayette Cemetery District provides space for residents of Lafayette, Alamo, Danville and parts of San Ramon, who pay additional property tax for the service. "In Alamo there is no more ground burial for full-casketed remains," said Steiner. There are some family plots that may have room but there are none for sale. The Alamo Cemetery has a new wall with niches for cremation. "The rate that desire cremation here is higher than in other places in the Bay Area," Steiner said. "It's 65 percent in the Valley." Several years ago the law changed to allow cremated remains to be scattered anywhere with permission of the agency or landowner. Steiner said he has arranged for people to scatter ashes on Mount Diablo; others scatter them on land, at sea or take them home. The cemetery district includes a cemetery off Highway 24 in Lafayette, which does have room for burials. Lafayette also has Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery on Reliez Valley Road, which also accepts non-Catholics. Next to that is Oakmont Memorial Park. Other choices are in Concord, Pleasanton or Livermore, said Steiner. Veterans can be buried at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine off Highway 5, he noted. He said he always recommends that families visit the site first. "Fifty percent of the people that go out there see it and like it, and others don't want any part of it," he explained. Another national cemetery is being planned on acreage near Dixon, which will be more convenient for local families, he said. The Creekside Memorial Park will be on the calendar for routine approval at the Town Council meeting May 17.