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CLE ELUM — Gina Bowen approached the Cle Elum City Council on Tuesday night with an unusual proposal — she wants to buy Greenwood Cemetery.

“I’ve felt a calling to start a cemetery for people who can’t afford to be buried,” Bowen said.

Bowen said burial costs can approach $5,000 and many people are opting for cremation because it’s cheaper, even though they would prefer to be buried.

“Any graves that are currently in the cemetery, I’d maintain,” Bowen said. “I’d continue to use it as a free cemetery for people who can’t afford to be buried.”

Bowen’s proposal was a surprise to some officials.

“It’s a new one on me. We haven’t sold a cemetery lately,” said Jay McGowan, mayor pro-tem. “We usually sell them a piece at a time. If you want to buy one spot, it’d be okay.”

Greenwood is a historic cemetery on the outskirts of South Cle Elum off Westside Road. It is not in Cle El-um, but is owned by the city. Several years ago it was cleaned up as part of a community project.

City manager Mike Cecka said the ownership and maintenance of a cemetery is a highly regulated enterprise with state requirements for perpetual care.

“Opening a cemetery is a fairly involved proposition,” Cecka said. “A better approach might be to put together a non-profit organization that would be a fund-raising conduit to provide assistance to people who can’t afford burial.”

Bowen said the ownership aspect is not that important to her.

“I feel that this is something God has put on my heart,” Bowen said. “I feel that I’ve been called to make the option of burial available to people.”

City Clerk DeLeila Bannister said the issue of a person not being able to afford burial has not arisen in recent years. Public assistant does pay for burials, she added.

Cecka asked Bowen to come to City Hall to talk with him and Bannister about other options she could consider.

In other city business:

€ The council approved a contract with Earth Tech of Bellevue to produce the regional sewer facilities plan for $223,400.

The regional plan will study the possibility of creating a sewer system that would serve Cle Elum/South Cle Elum, Roslyn, Ronald, Trendwest/Jeld-Wen properties and other areas of unincorporated Kittitas County.

Trendwest is covering the cost. The city is applying for a grant from the county to assist in payment for the study.

€ The council began review of potentially expanding the city’s urban growth boundary eastward to include the Leavitt property adjacent to the Twin Pines Drive-in.

To include Leavitt land, the city would also have to involve several other land owners. Those land owners will be notified that their property is under consideration for urban growth area designation.

A urban growth area committee will continue reviewing the proposal and report back to the council at its May 9 meeting.

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