The $2 million Greek Revival-style building could be overlooking the confluence of the Etowah and Oostanaula rivers within 10 months, if the Rome City Commission approves the recommendation at its Nov. 21 meeting.
“This time next year it will be done,” Public Works Director Jamie McCord said.
Two companies submitted design-build proposals by the Oct. 25 deadline. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the committee unanimously threw its support behind the costlier proposal, from Oregon-based Milne Construction.
“It looks very classic. Myrtle Hill deserves that,” Commissioner Sue Lee said.
Milne — the company that drew up the original $3.4 million conceptual plan purchased by the city as a template — offered 588 crypt spaces and 580 cremation niches at $2,096,953.
The other bid, from Ingram Construction of Madison, Miss., was a $1,548,000 building with 600 crypt spaces and 336 cremation niches.
McCord said he was pleased with both proposals, but the more upscale version from Milne was a better fit for the historic cemetery in the heart of the city.
Differences ranged from the type of lighting and the marble used on the façade to the decorative features on the gables, columns and handrails.
“It’s kind of like building a house. You get what you pay for,” City Manager John Bennett said.
The Milne design also includes an internal restroom, patented security and drainage features and steel trusses. Construction time will be 10 months, compared to 17 months in Ingram’s proposal.
Cemetery Director Stan Rogers said the city already has taken in about $140,000 on pre-sales, including a $44,000 sale to a single family this past weekend.
Discounted pre-sale prices range from $1,270 to $2,300 for a cremation niche and from nearly $7,000 to more than $20,000 for a burial crypt. The prices will rise once construction begins.
Plans are to fund the project with $500,000 from the cemetery maintenance fund and a low-interest loan through a Georgia Municipal Association program. The debt would be paid off with the sales.
Myrtle Hill Cemetery, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was established in 1857 and contains about 20,000 graves on 31 acres.