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Cemetery to Add Ethnic Sections

May 24, 1996|JOHN POPE

The success of a recent cemetery addition designed for Asian Americans has prompted officials at Westminster Memorial Park to begin plans for other ethnic sections, including one for Latinos.

"The master plan we're developing is kind of a Disneyland-like concept, with mini-cultural areas that fold together well," said Stephen Conley, a park consultant. "The idea is a place that allows people to celebrate death rites unique to their own cultures."

In January, the 160-acre park opened a 3-acre section called the Garden of Peaceful Eternity, an elaborate $700,000 addition featuring a pagoda, landscaping and a bubbling pond.

In doing so, the 72-year-old park joined a growing number of mortuaries and cemeteries adapting to serve ethnic communities and immigrant groups.

The addition, Conley said, has been "incredibly well received."

Sales there account for an average of 50 plots a month, he said, about 25% of the entire park's 200 plots a month in sales. Asian Americans and recent immigrants from Asian countries account for about 10% of an average 1,200 burials a year at the park, a figure that is expected to grow as the immigrant population ages.

Park officials have a 3-acre undeveloped area picked out for the Latino section, and preliminary plans are being formulated, Conley said: "We're using the broader term of 'Latino,' but it will focus on Mexican culture the same way the Asian [section] is mainly for those of Vietnamese descent."

The Garden of Peaceful Eternity, commonly called the Asian Garden, can accommodate 2,000 graves and will eventually expand to more than 10,000 over 12 acres.

The as-yet-unnamed Latino section will be about the same size, Conley said.

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