Cemetery grows with new roads, columbariums
Tecumseh’s Brookside Cemetery at 501 N. Union St. is in the process of expanding by adding both gravesites and spaces for urns, and Superintendent Tracey Roberts is looking ahead to all that needs to be done before winter.
A new 64-niche columnbarium, which is a structure for the storage of funerary urns holding cremated remains, was delivered to the cemetery on August 31. The structure is near the Handler Garden in the northeast part of the cemetery which will soon be expanded to add 2,400 lots. Each lot will hold four to six gravesites, according to Roberts.
The cemetery currently has areas numbered one through nine, and the new addition will hold areas 10 through 17. A new drive will possibly be completed later this month after some existing asphalt is removed and another driveway moved. The new section will be behind the large pole barn on the cemetery property.
In addition to all the activity from the expansion, Roberts will soon be preparing the cemetery for cold weather. He normally has three seasonal employees who work 29 hours per week, April through the end of November or beginning of December, and who sometimes come in when needed during the winter.
“We have to blow out the water spigots going into winter and prepare all the equipment for snow removal,” he said. That involves adding a salt box and snow blade to a Gator utility vehicle and putting a snowblower on a utility tractor after removing the summer equipment. Taking care of the property in the winter months is challenging.
“It’s quite a bit of work,” said Roberts. “Last year I did it all myself and it took about two to three hours to clear the snow in the cemetery every time it snowed. I was in here anywhere from 3 a.m. to 4:30 in the morning clearing the area before seven or eight o’clock, because we’ve got residents that come in and drive around.” He makes sure to get in early to make sure no one gets stuck in the snow.
“It’s quite a bit to take care of,” he said. “I’m not in the office that much.”
In addition, preparing for a funeral in the cold weather months takes more labor than any other time of the year, because the ground must be thawed. That can be a half-day project itself before the grave can be excavated.
The costs of burial at Brookside are affordable compared to cemeteries in bigger cities. “We’re about a third of what Detroit and Ann Arbor are,” said Brooks. “Our lots are $525 for a resident and $705 for a nonresident, and if you go to Detroit you’re going to pay near $1,400 to $1,700 per lot.” Other related expenses for burial at the cemetery include fees for opening and closing a grave, crypt or niche, as well as pouring the concrete for grave marker placement. Many people purchase up to four lots at a time after meeting with Roberts or another Brookside employee and choosing a site to their liking.
Brooks, who was formerly employed by the City of Tecumseh’s Department of Public Works Department for 17 years, has been Brookside’s superintendent since spring of 2019 when previous superintendent Dan Righter left. The cemetery has a park-like setting and is filled with historic monuments and tombstones dating back to the early 1800s. For more information, visit mytecumseh.org/departments/brookside_cemetery.