Wichita Falls, TX - The city of Wichita Falls is one step closer to expanding Riverside Cemetery. For the past decade, the city-owned resting place has been full.
Tuesday city councilors approved a measure that would hire a consultant to produce construction drawings and specifications to move forward with the project.
Jack Murphy, Director of Parks & Recreation, which includes cemeteries told Newschannel the city has a master plan with renderings on what the expansion of Riverside Cemetery will look like, but this job will provide construction crews with the specifics on the project.
Murphy said this expansion has been in the works more than 20 years.
"Because it's so old it has a very extensive family connection," said Murphy.
He said every week several people inquire about purchasing a grave space there. The cemetery is the oldest in town and also the resting place of some of the city's most notable residents.
James Alred, former Governor of Texas is buried there, among 18,000 other people and the cemetery is at maximum capacity.
"For the last 15-20 years the cemetery has been full and we've had to say no because there's no space," said Murphy. "The expansion will afford an opportunity for people to be buried in Riverside Cemetery near their loved ones."
The expansion of the cemetery will be in three phases, but city officials are focusing their attention on Phase One at this time.
It will include upgrading the entrance gate of the cemetery along Seymour Highway.
The maintenance office at the front of the cemetery will be converted into a sales office with added parking spaces.
In the rear of the cemetery, they will construct a shelter and cremation and estate garden.
The Third Street entrance off of Clift Street, which is currently not open to the public will be developed for cemetery purposes.
Lastly, in-fill on some carriageways will be converted into grave spaces.
"We think the actual construction of phase one of riverside cemetery expansion will come sometime after may of next year," said Murphy.
Once the city completely finishes its expansion project, revenue from it will support the cities two other cemeteries, Rosemont, and Lakeview.
The city said it hired a consultant firm and from their analysis it believes after a few years of operation they could have a self-supporting cemetery.