By Derek Schlennstedt
People are dying to get into Ferntree Gully cemetery, with Knox councillors making the decision on 25 February to create more space to hold ashes.
According to councillors Ferntree Gully Cemetery is nearing capacity with only 34 ash graves remaining.
Those graves are expected to be filled in the next 12 months.
The dire situation prompted councillors to take action and at the Knox council meeting on 25 February, councillors unanimously agreed to a proposal that would result in the creation of 231 new ash graves.
The proposed extension to the Foothills Section of the Cemetery would be consistent and respectful of the existing grove niche walls and there will be no impact to existing burial or ashes
Based on preliminary quotes, the cost of extending the ashes’ positions is estimated to be less than $200,000 and the council will apply for a State Government grant to help pay for the works.
Knox Mayor Jake Keogh said community consultation on the proposed expansion was met with overwhelming support.
Over three weeks in January and February community consultation was conducted.
There were 61 respondents during this time, with 92 per cent of respondents supporting the proposal and six per cent of respondents that were neutral. Only two per cent of respondents did not support the proposal.
The Ferntree Gully Cemetery was established in 1873 and many pioneers of the district are buried there including renowned landscape artist Sir Arthur Streeton.
Knox Council took over responsibility as trustee of the cemetery in 1982.
In 1984 the Governor in council declared the cemetery “closed” for the sale of new graves and until 2002, no graves were available for sale for in-ground burials. All graves have now been sold.