A land trust associated with Kenyon College plans to turn about 30 acres of the Tomahawk Golf Course near Mount Vernon, Ohio into a nature preserve with as many as 4,000 burial plots. Nine holes of golf are being retained in a “nod to community sentiment.”
A land trust associated with Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio plans to part of an 18-hole golf course into a “green” burial ground that favors wood caskets and even cloth shrouds over steel caskets, embalmed bodies and cement vaults, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
The Philander Chase Corp. purchased the 18-hole public Tomahawk Golf Course near Mount Vernon, Ohio in August for $450,000, the Dispatch reported. Nine holes will continue to operate under the new ownership but about 30 of the property’s 51 acres will be converted into the Kokosing Nature Preserve, which will include the burial plots.
The corporation’s director, Lisa Schott, told the Dispatch that continuing to offer golf was not part of the original plan for the property, but feedback from the public following the sale last summer prompted a change in thinking.
“[Retaining nine holes] was a nod to community sentiment,” Schott said.
The golf operation will be leased to a long-time Tomahawk patron, Rob Heagren, who will rename the course Deer Hollow, the Dispatch reported. Heagren hopes to open the nine-hole course in early April.
Stephen Christy, a member of the Philander Chase board, told the Dispatch that several sites had been looked at for the nature preserve, “but Tomahawk was the first one that really jelled.”
Christy is a landscape architect in Chicago who also has served as a board member for the Green Burial Council for several years, the Dispatch reported. That council was created in 2005 to help establish guidelines and standards for burial grounds, funeral homes and burial products.
Ohio has four Green Burial Council-certified cemeteries, and Kenyon’s will be the first in central Ohio and also the first in the country to be owned and operated by a university, the Dispatch reported.
According to project manager Amy Henricksen, site preparation will begin this spring with the laying out of roads and paths in the nature preserve, the Dispatch reported. Plantings of native prairie grasses and trees, and construction of a water feature, will take place in the early fall. The corporation hopes to begin selling burial plots by the second half of 2015, Henricksen said.
Philander Chase’s plans for the property were modeled after Foxfield Preserve, a green-burial cemetery and nature preserve that opened in 2008 near Canton, in northeastern Ohio, Henricksen told the Dispatch. Interment rights there cost $4,000, while the scattering of cremated remains, including a record of the location, costs $250.
Preliminary plans for the Kenyon site call for between 2,000 and 4,000 burial plots. Part of the purchase price for those plots will include a tax-deductible gift to the Philander Chase Corp., to be used for future land conservation.
“It fits perfectly with our mission,” Christy told the Dispatch. “Your last act on Earth can be both a return to where you came from, without using up a lot of resources, and a sustaining act for future preservation.”