Wong offers $26,000 to buy crematorium property

Stephen Floyd

A Winlock resident opposed to the establishment of a crematorium in town has announced her offer to purchase the property where the crematorium could go, stating she is not opposed to the business itself but simply its location.

Resident Rosanna Wong, who has organized opposition to the crematorium since the city gave public notice of the potential development last month, stated in a release Monday she is willing to purchase the property in question, at 201 SE First St., for $26,000, the price Cattermole Funeral Home paid for it in November, according to county tax records.

Wong and other residents have said they would like to see the crematorium established outside the city limits because of their concerns for smoke, ash and noxious fumes, and she has suggested moving it to the underdeveloped industrial zone by I-5.

Though Funeral Home Owner Russ Weeks has said he is not opposed to finding a different location for the crematorium, he said the only zones in which the city would allow him to establish his business are currently within the city limits, while Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell has said the industrial park, owned by Benaroya, would be off the table because it currently has no access to city utilities, as he said are required of a crematorium.

When asked if he would be willing to consider Wong’s offer, Weeks said Monday he had yet to hear from Wong personally and, until such a time, did not feel it would be appropriate to comment on the matter.

In an effort to meet half-way with protestors, Weeks had announced Friday he would be canceling a public hearing originally scheduled for Wednesday to consider approval of a conditional use permit for the crematorium. He said he would like to take time instead to clear up many of the misconceptions regarding a crematorium’s pollution hazard, which, according to the Southwest Clean Air Agency, is negligible because of how hot a crematorium furnace burns.

Wong has dismissed arguments upholding the safety of crematoria as motivated by professional conflicts of interest, and stated in her release she views the postponement of the hearing as a sign Weeks is intending to proceed with the crematorium as planned, simply at a later date.

Weeks has not said when the hearing may be rescheduled, stating he would rather ensure his company and the public are on the same page before proceeding further.