Updated

Thomaston resurrects crematorium discussion

By Beth A. Birmingham | Mar 13, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Several parcels of land were looked at during a site walk March 11 in Thomaston's Village Cemetery for a proposed crematorium. After further conversations, the plot in the background was suggested by both the Cemetery Committee and the Board of Selectmen.

Thomaston — The Thomaston Village Cemetery Board of Trustees and Board of Selectmen have reopened dialogue on a potential crematorium in the Village Cemetery, an idea that was shot down at town meeting last June.

Mike Hall, owner of Hall's Funeral Home, proposed to lease land in the cemetery and do business as Midcoast Crematory Inc., which was contested as "purely a business venture" by opponents.

Although the estimated lease of not less than $500 a month plus payment of taxes for the facility would go directly to the Cemetery Committee for ongoing maintenance, several residents spoke out about the location and disruption to the neighborhood.

Since then several meetings have been held and the decision was made to investigate the terms and location for a potential crematorium, with the combined boards conducting a site walk March 11 in the Village Cemetery.

Of a handful of locations discussed, the board agreed to look into the feasibility of a parcel of land adjacent to the Catholic Cemetery on the left side of Anna Belle Lane.

Planning Board Chairman Joanne Richards said she would look into the specifics of lot setbacks and the size of any proposed building, and it was recommended the building be placed toward the farther corner near a row of granite blocks because of drainage problems at the front of the lot.

When asked if he thought the facility would ever need to be expanded, Hall said he did not see going beyond the original footprint of the building. There would be one retort, or cremation chamber, to start with, and the ability to add a second if needed.

All agreed there was much confusion surrounding the article on last year's warrant, and Hall was not present at town meeting to address residents' concerns.

"I'd really like to get it back on the June warrant," Hall said. "We started this process three years ago to create a win-win situation. We are a local business and we have the local community's interest at heart."

After some deliberation on whether or not the town should seek requests for proposals from anyone else interested in the parcel of land for a crematorium, it was suggested not to, as Hall had come to the town with a proposal -- the town did not determine it needed this type of service.

However, Selectman Beverly St. Clair said that, as the land in question is town-owned property, the citizens deserve to get the best deal possible, and putting it out to bid "seems like the right thing to do."

It was decided to seek the advice of Town Assessor Dave Martucci on lot size and whether it belonged to the town or the cemetery.

Giving some statistics on the growing popularity of cremations, Hall said there are upwards of 850 deaths a year on average in the Lincoln and Knox County area, and about 70 percent are cremations. He added that his funeral home does about 165 cremations per year.

"Nationally, competitors don't usually go to their competitors for cremations," Hall said. "With cremations there is a huge liability, as it is an irreversible process."

He said he is used to following the process all the way through when someone dies, but is not cremated. Currently, he is going through a third party for cremations, instead of following the process all the way through.

"Why we want to do this is to create a natural extension of the service we already provide," Hall said.

The next step will be to hold an information meeting to answer any questions residents may have, then put an article on the town meeting warrant for June seeking authorization for the town to negotiate the land in question through a request for proposals.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Crematorium discussion revisited in Thomaston
Members of the Thomaston Board of Selectmen and the Cemetery Committee take a closer look at a parcel of land in the Village Cemetery for a proposed crematorium brought to the town by Mike Hall, right, of Hall's Funeral Home. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Mike Hall, center, of Hall's Funeral Home, meets with members of the Thomaston Board of Selectmen and Cemetery Committee in the Village Cemetery March 11 to assess possible sites for a crematorium. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A crematorium is sited off Searsport Road in Belfast. (Photo by: Thomaston Town Office)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Mar 14, 2019 10:33

Reading that cremation is an irreversible process does that mean that embalming can be reversed. Just asking in case somebody I know might want a second spin on this planet earth.



Posted by: Beverly St. Clair | Mar 13, 2019 21:08

Correction: A motion was made by the Thomaston Select Board /Cemetery Trustee's  on July 23 2018. to investigate terms, location and to advertise the crematorium site through  RFP to the general public. We did not agree on anything otherwise at the March 11th meeting. No date has been set to send the RFP out as of yet. This will of course have to go back to the voter's for final approval



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