BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau email@example.com
MONTEGO BAY, St James - DALE Delapenha, the managing director of Delapenha's Funeral Home, threw open the gates of his state-of-the-art cemetery on Sunday with the burial of Dr Basil Reid, the longest- serving president of the Adventist Church in West Jamaica.
"I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement of the Montego Bay community. Now we can finally open our own cemetery to offer the service that the people deserve," Delapenha told the Observer West, following the first burial at the cemetery.
Located in Moore Park, St James, the facility aptly named Hillview Memorial Park, which is being developed at a cost of $100 million on 45 acres of land will boast several features that will make it "a cut above the rest" when it becomes fully operational", Delapenha told the Observer West.
The burial ground which is "nicely taking shape" is being developed in several phases, Delapenha said. It will feature a cremation centre, where families can become involved in the cremation process, as well as to buy cremation merchandise, such as jewellery, urns and vaults.
Persons wanting to buy flowers will be able to do so also, at a shop located at the facility.
According to Delapenha, the cemetery will also have an outdoor Chapel with a seating capacity of 200, specially designed to allow for short walking distances to each burial plot.
There will also be a green space area consisting of five acres of land, outfitted with a water park and benches, that, he said, will offer families some tranquility when they come back to visit love ones who have been buried on the property.
Yesterday, he told the Observer West that Phase One of the project is 90 per cent complete, while work on other phases of the development should begin soon.
Delapenha had long argued that the creation of a first-class cemetery is necessary for the survival of his funeral business.
Seven years ago, the prominent Montego Bay businessman embarked on the development of 17 acres of picturesque land in Burnt Ground, Hanover, on what was later known as the Royale Rest.
But, the project was later abandoned due to the unwillingness of area residents to have burials there.
Delapenha told the Observer West yesterday that he is very encouraged by the number of requests for burials at Hillview Memorial Park.
"We are very happy with the response of the public; it's really encouraging," he said.
Since the start of the week, there has been four burials at the facility and several more are planned for the coming weeks," he pointed out.
The official opening of the facility is scheduled for November, he said.