Batavia to install columbarium in local cemetery to store cremation urns

City responds as more people opt for cremation

BATAVIA – The city of Batavia will install a columbarium for storing cremation urns at the Westside Cemetery.

The 80-niche, eight-sided granite structure is coming in response to the increasing trend of people choosing cremation and to requests from Batavia residents, Public Works Director Gary Holm said.

Weighing in at 16,522 pounds, the columbarium will be placed in a prominent location at the front of the cemetery, on an open grassy area immediately south of the Newton Civil War Monument and will be easily visible to passersby from South Batavia Avenue (Route 31).

“This is in response to customer requests,” Holm said. “Families have requested this type of facility.”

Rising slightly more than seven-feet-high with a flat roof, the columbarium’s 80 niches will measure 12 inches high, wide and deep.

The columbarium is expected to be installed later this month, Holm said. Work is underway now to design the concrete pad that will support the structure.

The Batavia City Council recently approved the purchase of the columbarium from the American Wilbert Vault Corp. of Des Plaines for $60,000.

The purchase will be financed in part from a $25,000 private donation for improvements to the cemetery, Holm said.

The cost of the supporting concrete pad and other site improvements, along with installation of the columbarium using a crane, are not included in the $60,000 price, Holm said.

The columbarium will be accessible to visitors via walkways extending from cemetery vehicle driveways to the east and west of the site.

The funerary urns will be placed inside the niches and the deceased’s name and other details engraved on the exterior.

The decision to add the columbarium at the Westside Cemetery comes as no surprise to Bryan Moss, president of Batavia’s Moss Family Funeral Home.

“This is not something new to cemetery services,” Moss said.

Nearly 43% of people in Illinois opt for cremation, Moss said. That figure is much lower downstate, he said, meaning that in this part of the state the split between cremation and burial is about even.

“It has been an increasing trend,” Moss said of cremation.

While some people decide to have their cremation urns buried in a grave or interred in a columbarium, many more of the urns are taken home by the family and the final disposition of the remains is unknown, Moss said.

Moss Family Funeral Home, 209 S. Batavia Ave., operates its own crematorium at a location in the eastside Batavia industrial park.

“Family members can be assured that their loved ones never leave our care,” Moss said.

A columbarium is distinct from a mausoleum, which is designed for the interment of entire bodies.

The term columbarium comes from the Latin word “columba,” meaning “dove.” The word columbarium originally referred to a dovecote, being a structure with nesting spaces for pigeons and doves.

Columbaria is the plural form as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, although it often appears to be used interchangeably with columbarium.

Moss noted that there are columbaria located at many area burial grounds, including Union Cemetery in St. Charles, Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Geneva, St. Gall Catholic Cemetery in Elburn and River Hills Memorial Park in Batavia.

Pricing for the Batavia Westside Cemetery columbarium niches has yet to be determined, Holm said.

The city operates the Westside Cemetery, along with the Eastside Cemetery on North Washington Avenue (Route 25), as not-for-profit enterprises.