Dublin has cancelled phases 2, 3, and 4 of the city’s Historic Park master plan, saving $15.4 million in financing that staff reported would be a losing proposition.

However, the city will go ahead with a fifth phase that will create a memorial section in the cemetery, without expanding the park's footprint. The 10-acre park, at 6600 Donlon Way, includes Old St. Raymond Church, built in 1859; the Murray Schoolhouse, built in 1856; the Kolb Sunday School Barn; and the Pioneer Cemetery.

The memorial section will be supported by fees from people who buy memorials as a resting place for the ashes of loved ones.

The ashes will be placed in urns or other receptacles and stored in the hollow portion of benches, where people can sit and contemplate the beauty of the grounds. Staff is also recommending hollow, artificial boulders for storing ashes. The boulders would blend aesthetically with the landscaping. The upfront capital costs would include replacing dead hawthorn trees and planting new ones at other spots in the memorial area.

Total cost for the project is estimated at $1.4 million, which would be repaid by the fees. The council voted unanimously to make the park plan changes at its Oct. 1 meeting. Mayor David Haubert supported the staff recommendation, but added, “It’s too bad we can’t go forward with a more elaborate plan.”

Both the city’s Heritage and Cultural Arts Commission, and the Parks and Community Services Commission unanimously recommended the cancellation of all three phases.

Parks and Community Services Director La Shawn Butler said that a consultant’s study in 2017 showed that improving Historic Park and expanding the cemetery as they were planned in 2008 would not be financially sustainable.

It would take more than 15 years to break even, over 30 years to make a profit, and 50 years to raise enough money from a revenue-yielding endowment fund to pay for maintenance of the grounds, Butler said.