MARCO ISLAND — “It’s tough to talk to people about burial arrangements,” says Marco Island resident Clayton Lietz.
That doesn’t stop Lietz, however, who has been working on bringing a third option for funeral arrangements on Marco Island for about 13 years.
When a loved one dies there are currently two options, burial in a casket or cremation of the remains. Lietz would like Marco Islanders to have a third, above-ground option, by way of a mausoleum at the Marco Island Cemetery on Elkcam Circle.
In the past few months, Lietz has made headway on the endeavor. He has the support of City Planner Kris Van Lengen, Island Attorney Craig Woodward and Reverend Thomas McCulley, Pastor of New Life Community Church of God, among others.
“(Clayton Lietz) talks to everyone he can about it... I think it’s a very viable project,” said McCulley.
In August, the church and cemetery board agreed to set aside space on cemetery property for the mausoleum.
Woodward is working with McCulley and Lietz to create a trust to hold the money paid by those who wish to buy a crypt while the project is underway.
“We don’t want a nickel from anyone until we get that trust fund set up,” McCulley said.
He clarified that no money could be collected for the purchase of a crypt at this time. He and Lietz will take names and contact information and stay in touch with Islanders interested in making such arrangements.
Lietz has, however, sought donations to help with the project and requested City Council contribute to the construction of the mausoleum, which is estimated to cost about $250,000, according to contractors with Ken Dear, Inc, a mausoleum builder based in Bradenton, Fla.
Chairman Rob Popoff, however, said it was not a typical city government project, and while he supported the idea, he suggested churches and private donors be sought.
Lietz said naming rights and other fundraising options are being developed.
PK Architect Inc., of Naples, has drawn up preliminary designs for the mausoleum, which is to include 100 crypts and 100 urns. The structure is to be about 12 feet high, 50 feet wide and 50 feet long, according to the plans.
Van Lengen said the planning is currently in the pre-application phase as McCulley has been working with him and others in the city’s planning department to find the most suitable location within the cemetery for the project and to ensure it complies with all city codes.
Lietz said his goal is to keep the costs of spaces for both full-sized caskets and for urns as low as possible and offer a place closer to home for Marco’s residents. Currently, the nearest mausoleum is at Naples Memorial Cemetery.
“I want to keep it so the people of Marco can afford it, can afford to die.”
Lietz, who declined to share his age, thought his endeavor was going to dead-end before recently surviving a dangerous heart condition. That’s when he picked up momentum again.
“Jesus gave me a little more time before my battery ran out,” said the man, who personally does not want to be buried in the ground.
Contact Clayton Lietz at 394-7080 to contribute to the project or learn more.