Changes eyed for Aspen Grove Cemetery | AspenTimes.com

Changes eyed for Aspen Grove Cemetery

Aaron HedgeThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesThe Aspen Grove Cemetery could be considered for designation on the National Resgister of Historic Places.

ASPEN – An independent review of the Aspen Grove Cemetery has resulted in a proposal that the burial ground be subject to a new preservation plan and suggests it should be designated to the National Register of Historic Places.The cemetery, according to a first draft of the report that was released on Monday, needs a comprehensive strategy to maintain its identity as one of the community’s foremost historic resources.Maintenance of the cemetery has been mostly done by volunteers with the Aspen Grove Cemetery Association, an organization that has been charged with caring for the grounds since 1889.But the report notes that the volunteer base is growing older, and needs help from the city and outside resources to continue its work.”While they have continued to effectively manage the site, the group is aging, and the effort is becoming increasingly challenging and may eventually require participation from the city or some other entity,” the document says.Jim Markalunas, who has lived in Aspen all of his eight decades, is one of the caretakers of the cemetery. The report lauded Markalunas and his wife Ramona for their dedication to the site.The report says the cemetery association is in support of a new plan for maintaining the graveyard.The City Council commissioned the study, jointly funded by the city and a grant from the Colorado Historical Society, in 2007 after the cemetery association expressed concern about its condition.Three historic preservation contractors from Fort Collins – Tatanka Historical Associates Inc., BHA Design, Inc. and Anthony & Associates – conducted the study over the summers of 2008 and 2009.The plan recommends a small amount of new construction: It says to install a restroom, to replace broken pieces of the wooden rail fencing that hems the land and place a sign at Highway 82 and McSkimming Road indicating the entrance to the burial ground.It says the existing roads and trail infrastructure are adequate for a low flow of traffic that is typical of the site.The cemetery has been in place in one form or another since 1889. But after World War II, it became less active, serving as more of a historical landmark and, since 1970, has been an escape for hikers and nature enthusiasts.A small number people are buried in it every year, according to the study, though it didn’t provide exact numbers.Residential development surrounds the cemetery, but the buildings do not affect the solitary feel of the cemetery because a thick aspen grove that has sprung up in the last 40 years separates from the rest of the city, the report notes.It is the final resting place of a number of famous Aspen residents, including Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, feminist poetry pioneer Mina Loy, and Fritz Benedict, founder of the 10th Mountain Hut and Trail system and chairman of the first Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission.City officials will present the plan in a press conference at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the cemetery, located on the east side of town. The city suggests that those interested in attending walk or bike because of limited parking.ahedge@aspentimes.com

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