Mountain View/Prospect Park Cemetery Expansion Project
At the May 2023 Annual Town Meeting, Town Meeting Members voted to fund the expansion of Mountain View Cemetery to 65 Prospect Street through Article 32
Below you can watch the recording from the public meeting held on April 5, 2023 regarding the Cemetery Expansion
Cemetery Expansion Meeting - April 5, 2023
About the Project
Since 1976, Town Meeting has taken various actions related to the current expansion of the Mountain View/Prospect Park Cemetery Expansion Project. This includes the original purchase of the land up until the most recent Special Town Meeting in October 2022.
Currently, burial plots in Mountain View Cemetery are being sold on an immediate need basis; meaning a current resident must have passed away to be able to purchase a burial plot in Town.
Based upon the current trends, the existing Mountain View Cemetery will be sold out of burial plots around January of 2032. However, the recent trend is for one and two burial plots to be purchased rather than the larger four burial plots. The current trend is that the one and two burial plots will be sold out by 2029.
Goals of the Project:
The Cemetery Expansion will NOT be a traditional cemetery. The goal is to maintain a park-like feel. This style of cemetery is not as common as traditional cemeteries. The expansion aims to maintain the passive recreational space that Prospect Park currently offers residents, while meeting the Town's needs and obligations under State Law to provide space for residents to be buried in Town.
Obligations Under State Law:
The Town additionally has obligations under the Massachusetts General Laws related to cemeteries and burials of residents it is M.G.L. Chapter 114, Section 10
The Town purchased the land currently known as Prospect Park, 65 Prospect Road, in 1976. Article 1 of the Special Town Meeting on March 8, 1976, Town Meeting Members voted to authorize the then Board of Selectmen to purchase the property owned by the Master, Wardens and Members of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts for playground purposes. At that same Special Town Meeting, Article 2 passed to create a Masonic Hospital Committee (later renamed Masonic Home Study Committee) to study all possible public and private uses of the Masonic Hospital property and to provide Town Meeting with their findings and recommendations.
Under Article 1 of the Annual Town Meeting on May 16, 1977, the Masonic Home Study Committee reported they were still evaluating the potential uses of the property but at this time was focused on the building and whether to renovate or demolish it. The report highlighted the potential uses the Committee was exploring for the entire property and they included future cemetery expansion, retain land for the then Water Department for their existing water tank and future tank(s), potential cluster housing development utilizing in part the existing building, a private restaurant, municipal pool, nine hole golf course, an office park with a mix of housing and office buildings, nature center, and elderly housing.
The Masonic Home Study Committee reported at the Special Town Meeting on April 20, 1978 that the Committee was working with the Shrewsbury Housing Authority to create elderly housing apartments and a community center in the old building, but the Housing Authority was seeking State and Federal funding to finance the project.
At the May 23, 1979 Annual Town Meeting, Town Meeting accepted Article 24, the final report from the Masonic Property Study Committee. After a lengthy period of time, the Shrewsbury Housing Authority was not approved for funding from the State for elderly housing and community center in the old building. Therefore the final report recommended the land be used for Future Cemetery expansion, an amount of land sufficient to allow for the future widening of Prospect and Boylston Streets, and the area required by the Water Department for the present and future storage tanks, with the balance of the land retained by the Town for recreational use. The Article also appropriated money to demolish the buildings.
From 1984 to 2002, Town Meeting Members were presented with a variety of options for the use of the land of Prospect Park. These proposals included were:
- Article 53 of the May 23, 1984 Annual Town Meeting a motion was defeated to sell a portion of the Prospect Park totaling 1.805 acres of land.
- Article 7 of the November 7, 1991 Special Town Meeting defeated a motion to appropriate funds to construct an elementary school on the Masonic Hospital site.
- At the May 19, 1993 Annual Town Meeting, Article 39 was passed for the Masonic Hospital Land to be used for the construction of a middle school. Article 38 voted to appropriate funds to construct the middle school.
- Town Meeting defeated Article 45 at the May 22, 1997 Annual Town Meeting that would have transferred a portion of the former Masonic Hospital property for lease as a communication tower site.
- At the May 21, 1998 Annual Town meeting, Article 59 was defeated to authorize the Board of Selectmen to enter into a lease agreement with telecommunication companies to collocate antennas on the existing water tank.
- Town Meeting at the May 22, 2002 Annual Town Meeting under Article 19 defeated a motion to allow the Board of Selectmen to enter into a lease agreement for a telecommunication antennae.
Eventually in 2005, under Article 8, Capital Budget at the May 18, 2005 Annual Town Meeting, the Town appropriated $25,000 to fund a study to determine the means of expanding the existing cemetery operations. That same year at the October 11, 2005 Special Town Meeting authorized funds for the engineering and testing for a new or repair of the water tank at the Masonic Property.
At the May 17, 2006 Annual Town Meeting, Article 32 changed the designation of a portion of the Masonic Property for water supply purposes and Article 33 approved the appropriation to construct a new water tank and associated appurtenances and Article 7 of the September 26, 2006 Special Town Meeting approved the designation of a portion of the Masonic Property for water supply purposes.
On July 5, 2008, the Town solicited a Request of Proposals for Cemetery Master Plan Services. Included in the Scope of Work was a “Preliminary evaluation of the potential for expansion onto the property formerly known as the “Masonic Property.” The next year, on March 17, 2009, the Town received the Master Plan for Mountain View Cemetery and Adjacent Land formerly owned by Masonic Homes prepared by BSC Group, Inc.
Included in the Master Plan is a plan for 17,515 new graves shown in a traditional cemetery style (rows of graves) in very close proximity to the current proposed Phase I plan prepared by BSC Group dated October 2022. At the May 19, 2019 Annual Town Meeting, as part of the Omnibus Capital Budget Article 17, the Town appropriated money to conduct a Cemetery Master Plan for the Masonic Property.
On June 17, 2020, the Town solicited a Request of Proposals for Cemetery Master Plan Services with the Scope of Work limited to the potential expansion on the Town-owned parcel located at 65 Prospect Street and on August 6, 2020, the Town forwarded the Notice to Proceed to BSC Group for the Cemetery Master Plan Services.