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Heber works to lower construction costs to expand city’s cemetery

A rendering shows a possible design for a small version of the columbarium.
Heber City
A rendering shows a possible design for a small version of the columbarium.

The Heber City Cemetery is running out of space, but it won’t be cheap to expand.

City leaders say it’s a priority to build a new columbarium – a structure used to store cremation urns – because the cemetery is reaching capacity.

But councilmembers suffered sticker shock when the responses to a request for bid proposals came back this spring, as city manager Matt Brower explained.

“At the end of March, we received four bids for our project,” he said. “The lowest apparent bidder was about $2.1 million above our project budget of about $2.5 million. That’s why we had so much interest in meeting with the contractors to find out if we could value engineer this project to bring those costs down.”

The most expensive bid: more than $6 million.

The columbarium will have just under 1,300 niches for urns.

Brower says based on conversations with the contractors, he thinks the project costs could be reduced by $500,000 to $750,000. At a meeting Tuesday evening, May 21, the Heber City Council discussed where to adjust the design to make it more affordable.

Brower recommended the council also borrow money from other city funds to help pay for the structure. The city expects revenue from selling spots in the columbarium will pay for the project over the next five to 10 years.

The council considered whether to change certain building materials or phase aspects of the project, among other possible changes.

Councilmember Yvonne Barney said though she agrees with some changes to the design, she wants to be sure the construction is high quality.

“I don’t want us to have to go back in 50 years and redo everything and have more expense,” she said. “Let’s get it right the first time and move on.”

Councilmember Scott Phillips said the time is now to start building.

“Park City is already scrambling – they don’t have any cemetery spots left,” he said. “Midway’s running short, from what I’ve heard. So we’re bringing a product to the market that people are going to demand.”

The city council directed Brower to move forward with negotiating a contract with Jardine Lythgoe Joint Venture. Councilmembers decided on changes such as gravel instead of pavement in the courtyard, aluminum gutters instead of copper, and waiting to install a roundabout.

Next, the contractor will bring back a new cost estimate based on those recommendations.