Sylvia Barrett doesn’t want to be buried in Mesa. A Queen Creek resident for 12 years, Barrett said she would like to be buried where she lives and would like to see the town or a private property owner set aside land for final resting places.
“Right now everybody has to be buried out of town, and I think it’s important the town has a cemetery,” said Barrett, 57. “This place is growing bigger and bigger. All the land is being sold, but no one seems to think about that before it’s all gone.”
Barrett said she raised the issue years ago, but nothing has been done. She envisions a “pretty place” near the San Tan Mountains.
“When they go to do all this planning, nobody thinks they’re going to die,” she said.
For those living in Queen Creek and the surrounding area of the fast-growing community, the two nearest burial places are both about 13 miles away in Mesa.
Queen Creek interim Town Manager John Kross said the town gets questions from residents asking about cemeteries, but the town hasn’t received proposals from developers or quasi-public entities interested in developing one.
“At some point it will be something we’re looking at more closely but other than fielding inquiries, we haven’t pursued it any closer,” Kross said. “There is land available, but it’s privately held land.”
Kross said one of the reasons that providing for a cemetery isn’t on the town’s radar is because Queen Creek is a younger community, both in terms of how long it’s been around and its demographics, with a median age of 33.
“It’s a very young community,” he said. “At this point we’re focused on streets and transportation.”
Arizona Cemetery Association executive director Michael Darus said there are three types of cemeteries: those run by municipalities, private land owners or churches.
“Some cities do it as a benefit to citizens and may not cover their expenses,” Darus said. “It’s the choice of the city.”
Darus said rural municipalities are more likely to run a cemetery, and larger population areas might also have a private cemetery. Mesa has both a municipal cemetery and a private facility.
Kross said if a cemetery comes to Queen Creek in the next 10 years, it will probably be done by the private sector or a church.
Neighboring Gilbert doesn’t have a cemetery either. Tim Falconer of Gilbert’s Falconer Funeral Home said there are enough cemeteries in the East Valley but not always where families would like to have loved ones buried.
East Valley public cemeteries include the City of Mesa Cemetery, 1212 N. Center St., Chandler’s Valley of the Sun Mortuary and Cemetery on Chandler Heights Road between Alma School Road and Arizona Avenue, Mariposa Gardens, Broadway and Power roads, Mesa, East Resthaven Park near Priest Drive and Southern Avenue, Phoenix, and Mountain View Memorial Gardens on Apache Trail in Mesa.