The challenges faced by a big city like València in the management of their funeral services are very different from those that arise in other smaller cities, both due to the diversity and size of the facilities and the number of enclosures necessary to offer correct services to the citizens of the different neighborhoods. Alejandro Ramon, Councilor delegate for Cemeteries and Funeral Services of the Valencia City Council, explains in this interview the particularities of the service, future bets and your vision, as a public manager of the role that an event such as FUNERMOSTRA.
Is the management of cemeteries in a big city like Valencia very complex??
The management of funeral services in València It has an inherent complexity due to the surface area of the enclosures and also due to their number, as well as by the population volume. In Valencia we have different facilities, like the General Cemetery, which even has two phases separated by the AVE tracks, and also peripheral cemeteries of ancient towns, like Bell Tower, the Cabanyal, the Degree, El Palmar, Massarrojos or Benimàmet. Although each of them is at one end of the city, they must be maintained and assisted in the same way as the others..
How does a city like Valencia consider its funeral services strategy?
The main objective, logically, is to satisfy the demand for burial units, responding to the needs of simple niches and columbariums in all cemeteries. Other types of units such as double niches are in very low demand.
Is collaboration with companies in the sector necessary to guarantee the quality of the service?
At the Valencia City Council we work with many contractors, such as Atroesa for the management of the municipal funeral home or the Sociedad de Agricultores de la Vega. (SAV) for the enclosures. These two firms are joined by all the companies with which we bid for, for example, building niches. It should be noted that due to the particularities mentioned above, a large part of the management is tendered and, in this way, I must say that the relations with all the companies involved in one way or another in the management of the funeral precincts of València is of good communication with all of them.
How have the pressure derived from the coronavirus pandemic been resolved??
During the last twelve months the great work and effort of the contractors and the services of the city council have managed to satisfactorily cope with a situation as unprecedented as the one we are experiencing., especially in the first moments. All the parties involved in the management have assumed a great volume of work to face this adversity, even working with fewer staff due to confinements or positives, and also with much greater volume of work. The effort of the professionals has been commendable, and I want to take the opportunity that this interview gives me to show it, along with that of all funeral companies that work in the city and that, in this pandemic, they have been unjustly the great forgotten.
Is there a growing demand for incineration in the city? What trends do you see in this regard??
effectively, an increase in demand for incineration has been observed for years, and the trend is clearly upward to the detriment of the burial.
What percentage of ashes is deposited in the cemetery after cremation? Does the Valencia City Council plan to offer other alternatives beyond the niches and columbariums?
Within this aspect, un 20% of the incinerations that occur in the city demand to stay in columbariums of the different enclosures. Regarding the second question, the Valencia City Council is already responding to this demand that, without being massive, is present. The memory garden is an installation that we make available to Valencians so that they can spread the ashes of their deceased, that are distributed throughout the enclosure through irrigation.
Is it continuing with a stable rhythm of construction of new burial units in the different enclosures? Or are you starting to apply a reuse strategy of the currently existing?
So far we are building niches in all cemeteries to meet the demand, even in cemeteries like Campanar, which had not been built in the last 15 years. On the other hand, the first concessions of niches to 50 years, that started from 1971 they begin to meet this year, which will be the first request or the collection of the fee to renew the niche or its recovery by the City Council. So we enter an unknown stage, what is the recovery of these units. We still do not know the possible trend, since it is a personal decision that we are waiting to know, although the truth is that there are many people who request the cremation of the remains and the subsequent release of the niche.
Something that we are very clear about is that the cemetery cannot grow indefinitely, so recovery strategies are essential.
How is the cultural projection of the city's cemeteries?
In Valencia we have the "route of silence", complemented with a book written by Rafa Solaz, in which the wealth of the cemeteries is shown, so much in stories that many illustrious characters of the city tell us, as well as the architectural wealth treasured by the funeral precincts of València, and without forgetting the tree richness, which on many occasions is monumental It is about making an enclosure less cold, more naturalized and friendly.
Moreover, and within this aspect, in the coming weeks we will complete the transfer of the sarcophagus of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez to the General Cemetery, with which we will have a new point of interest in the enclosure.
Is the Valencia city council considering acquiring electric vehicles for the uses of municipal cemeteries?
For years, specifically from 2013, we have electric vehicles for the internal displacement of the staff of the general cemetery. . We understand that we must continue betting on electric mobility, and we will continue in this line that began almost a decade ago.
Do you think that Funermostra is a suitable forum for those responsible for cemeteries to find solutions?
FUNERMOSTRA is a very interesting forum, diverse and plural, ideal for meeting opinions where we can share our ambitions and projects, and among all improve the provision of services, sharing ideas, and making cemeteries kinder, more human, and with a better service for our neighbors and neighbors.