A Connecticut man has pleaded not guilty in connection with the thefts of human remains from a Massachusetts cemetery – crimes that authorities say were apparently related to Santeria religious practices
By Maria Papadopoulos, The Enterprise
WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. — Imagine a drive-by cemetery, where you can visit with your cremated loved one without ever getting out of your car.
Ron Snell is envisioning that at Pine Hill Cemetery, which on Friday began installing three new columbariums — structures that have niches or vaults to hold urns containing cremated remains, the Enterprise reported.
The columbariums — which can hold about 800 urns — are being installed on an island inside the cemetery off North Main Street (Route 28), said Snell, president of the Pine Hill Cemetery Association.
Snell said he designed the columbariums inside the island for maximum convenience.
“They’re going to be eye level. You can have a drive-by visitation,” Snell said. “People can stop and pay their respects; they can say their prayers, whatever they’re comfortable with and they can continue on.”
Pine Hill Cemetery, established in the mid-1800s, installed its first columbarium three years ago. Cemeteries in other communities including East Bridgewater, Randolph, Pembroke and Cohasset also have columbariums.
Snell, who estimated about half of the people who die are cremated, said the Pine Hill Cemetery Association is adding more columbarium units to conserve space at the cemetery and to keep up with the demand for a place to house cremated remains.
Graves currently occupy about 22 acres of the 35-acre Pine Hill Cemetery, he said.
“We’re eating up the land too fast by using in-ground burials,” Snell said. “The whole thing is, it’s more costly.”
Snell said the columbariums take up less room and are more efficient. He said housing cremated remains at Pine Hill Cemetery costs one-fifth of an in-ground burial. The niches or vaults inside the new columbariums are made of granite.
“They’re polished. They’re just beautiful. They’re really classy,” Snell said.
Officials are also planning to add mausoleums, or structures that hold coffins, at Pine Hill Cemetery to conserve ground space, Snell said.
“We’re planning on community mausoleums, where you have multiple families in one (structure),” Snell said.
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