If you are wondering what a Columbarium is, here is a brief explanation. A Columbarium is defined as a structure, room, or building with niches for funeral urns. Currently, there are no cemeteries in French Township, and the nearest cemeteries are in Chisholm or Morcom Township. Residents of the Township have been requesting that a cemetery be provided in the Side Lake area for many years. However, due to permits, land restrictions, and cost analysis, this has not been feasible. The Town of French Board has been researching and developing a plan for a Community Columbarium in Side Lake for the past two years.
This project began in 2017 with several Side Lake residents circulating a petition to determine if there would be sufficient interest. The favorable response to this inquiry was presented to the Town of French Board of Supervisors in early 2018, and a Columbarium Committee was formed to compile relevant information and data.
After presenting this information at the 2019 Annual Township Meeting, the wheels were set in motion. The St. Louis County Planning Commission approved our Conditional Use Permit in June of 2020, and the Board of Supervisors approved the official Columbarium Guidelines at their July meeting, bringing us to where we are today.
A property on Highway 5, adjacent to the Side Lake Community Center, has been donated to the Township by Janis Johnson for this specific purpose! (See pictures below) Janis donated this site to the community in 2019 in memory of her parents Vern and Irene Nelson, long-time residents of Side Lake. The community of Side Lake is sincerely grateful for the generous gift of this property for use as a final resting place for those with a connection to Side Lake.
The Side Lake Community Columbarium project entered the first phase of its development in July. We are very excited to be able to offer the opportunity for the public to reserve space right here in Side Lake as an alternative to a cemetery burial.
This first phase of construction includes a granite columbarium (similar to the one pictured above) containing 36 interment spaces, called niches, with each niche able to house the cremated remains of two individuals. Over the past several decades, columbaria have become a much-favored method of burial due to the reduced cost, lower maintenance, and more attractive memorial space.
There are various cost options available, which are determined by niche location. Cost of a niche ranges from $600 to $1000, with a discount for French Township property taxpayers. For more information, contact John Koppel, the Columbarium Registrar, at:
7703 McCarthy Beach Road, Side Lake, MN 55781
*You can view the Columbarium Guidelines by clicking here.