Repossessed? Draper City councilman suggests burial plot buyback

Local News

DRAPER (ABC4 News) – City officials are facing a ghoulish dilemma this Halloween:  they are out of room at the Draper City Cemetery, but one politician has a unique and controversial solution to this “grave” situation.

The old joke is true. People are dying to get in there. There’s currently no space available and a long waitlist.

Sixty-five people are waiting for a plot in the historic pioneer cemetery where the town’s namesake, William Draper, is buried. During an October 8th City Council work session Councilman Alan Summerhays suggested the city reclaim the 20 percent of plots that have been sold but not used yet.

“I’d like to get to the bottom of the cemetery,” Summerhays says is an audio recording of the session. “Take those 20 percent of the lots that are still out there that have not been touched in the last 20 years whatever, nobody’s even looked at ’em, asked about ’em anything…I think we can come and fill that thing up and get it all done…You buy ’em. You put the money in an account if somebody comes back, you give ’em the money. I don’t know how it works.”

Councilwoman Michele Weeks who owns plots in the cemetery, including the one where her husband is buried calls the suggestion “ludicrous.”
“I was shocked and appalled and flabbergasted that someone would even suggest that,” Weeks said Thursday.

“I think Alan might have been a little confused about what the status of it was,” Draper Mayor Troy Walker told ABC4 News. “If you’ve bought a plot here you own your plot. There’s no question. The only time that would change hands is you said “Hey we’re not going to bury Grandma here, we’re going somewhere else’ and there we would say OK. We’d buy it back at the price you paid. we’re not making money on it and then we sell it to the next person on the list.”

It turns out that Councilman Summerhays may literally want to get to the bottom of the cemetery. Later in the meeting, he stated that he’s been on the waiting list for years.

“He wants to move up on the waiting list so that’s why we’re imminent domaining everybody’s burial plots? I was shocked,” Weeks said. “I was astounded that no one else spoke up to say that this was a ridiculous idea. You’re going to take back my burial plot next to my husband if I don’t die within 20 years of his death? Crazy right?”

Councilman Summerhays was unavailable for an on-camera interview. One of his employees told ABC4 that he is vacationing in Mexico.

 Mayor Walker tells ABC4 News that the city is looking at sites to build another cemetery but the land is scarce – and expensive – in Draper these days.

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