OMAHA, Neb. — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Construction has unveiled the first designs for eastern Nebraska’s first national military cemetery.
A pair of engineers from the office recently unveiled the plans for the 230-acre cemetery during a downtown Omaha meeting attended by about 80 local veterans, The Omaha World-Herald reported.
The engineers said the first burial at the 230-acre cemetery could occur within two years.
“There were a lot of questions, and this answered them,” said James McCoy, 83, of Bellevue, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant.
Project Manager David Martino said the centerpiece of the Sarpy County National Veterans Cemetery will be a flag assembly area at the highest point on the site, where services for Memorial Day and Veterans Day can be held. Nearby will be a memorial walkway, where vets groups may put up monuments.
The $36 million contract to build the first phase of the cemetery was approved last summer by the U.S. House as part of a $73 billion appropriations bill for VA and military construction projects. That bill is still awaiting approval by the Senate.
But architects from Vireo, an Omaha landscape architecture firm, have begun drawing up plans for the western half of the site south of Omaha. The VA bought the land last December for $6.2 million.
The first phase, 35 acres, also will include 2,500 in-ground burial crypts and 3,000 spaces for cremated remains.
The cemetery eventually could hold up to 130,000 graves and is expected to accept new burials for 200 years, Martino said.
Design of the cemetery is scheduled to last two years, as is construction, said Mark Tillotson, director of the VA’s National Region.
But the second year of design and the first year of construction will overlap, allowing the first burials by summer 2015 and completion of the first phase a year later, he said.