Oak Park Cemetery takes first steps for expansion
City officials joined members of The Friends of Oak Park Cemetery on Tuesday for the grand opening of the Oak Park Cemetery expansion. The addition of 600 plots as well as a columbarium niche to the publicly owned and operated cemetery, is just the first step of the seven-phase expansion expected to be completed in the coming years.
“It’s been a long road to today and The Friends of Oak Park Cemetery are happy to see the first phase of the cemetery expansion,” said the group’s first president Mary Ann Barkey. “There were several bumps along the road to today, but we’re here to celebrate the completion. We thank everyone who participated in making this expansion a reality!”
Mayor Joe Lyons kicked-off the celebration with a short speech, addressing the 40 guests in attendance and recognizing those who played an integral role in seeing the first phase of the cemetery’s expansion come to fruition.
“The new expansion and niche wall has been seamlessly blended into the existing cemetery and will give more Claremont families a place to preserve their memories and provided a serene spot for reflection,” Mayor Lyons said.
The mayor thanked city staff, especially Director of Community Services Manager Kathleen Trepa and Management Analyst Kristen Turner as well as The Friends of Oak Park Cemetery for their tireless efforts to ensure the cemetery’s expansion met the highest standards and remained true to the cemetery’s esthetic.
The Friends of Oak Park Cemetery, an independent, non-profit organization formed in 1983 to work with the city of Claremont to promote and improve the cemetery, met with the city and RJM Design Group in 2007 to begin plans for the expansion. In 2008, the group presented a comprehensive plan for the expansion to be done in seven phases and, after a number of meetings, the first phase was decided on. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 1, 2012, an event councilman Corey Calaycay recalls fondly.