A new funeral home is coming to Durango that aims to help alleviate the demand for service as the region’s population grows.
The Williams Funeral Home last week received approval from La Plata County and the city of Durango for a new funeral home and crematorium to be located in the Grandview area, on the north side of the highway, near Three Springs Boulevard.
Once built, the Williams Funeral Home would mark the only other funeral home in Durango other than Hood Mortuary, which opened in 1902 and has been the only operating funeral home for years.
“With our community growing, I felt like we needed another option for funeral home and cremation services,” said Nancy Williams, owner of Williams Funeral Home.
Hood Mortuary owner Ryan Phelps, who purchased the business in 2005 after working there for 17 years, was on vacation this week and unable to be reached for comment, a receptionist said Monday.
Williams said that with La Plata County’s increasing population, there’s a need for more funeral service options.
La Plata County’s population has grown by about 11,000 people, from about 44,250 in 2000 to 55,600 in 2017, according to the latest available data from U.S. Census Bureau. With the increasing population comes an increase in the need for services.
“I think it will help,” Williams said of the new funeral home.
Williams and her husband owned the Four Winds Motel in Durango for 16 years. The family sold the motel in 2007 after her husband died, Williams said.
She said the idea for a new funeral home hatched after talking with her friend, Amy Mondragon, who worked at Hood Mortuary for 17 years. Williams said she will be the owner and facilitator, and Mondragon will run the funeral home.
“After having lost my husband, which was just devastating, I’m hoping we’ll be able to reach out in a tender, caring way and help people through these times when it’s so difficult,” Williams said.
It is possible a new funeral home could help solve a space crunch being experienced by the La Plata County Corner’s Office, which performs autopsies at Hood Mortuary.
Coroner Jann Smith said she was contacted by Williams, who was receptive to the idea of helping the Coroner’s Office.
“They’re still in planning stage, but when they’re further along, they’ll get a hold of me and see what we can do,” Smith said.
Geri Malandra, vice chairwoman of the La Plata County Planning Commission, said the project met all the compliance matters with issues such as water, access, sewer and neighborhood impacts. The project was unanimously approved in a joint meeting with Durango and La Plata County planning commissioners.
“It went smoothly,” Malandra said. “I personally believe it will be a very important contribution to the overall economy, health and welfare of the county.”
According to county records, the project includes an estimated 8,000-square-foot funeral home and crematorium with one residential unit for an on-site manager on the 0.71-acre property. The property has been used as residential in the past but is currently vacant.
Williams said she hopes to break ground in the next month or so and have the business up and running in six to nine months.
Megan Graham, spokeswoman for La Plata County, said all projects that receive joint approval from the county and city are subject to a 20-day period where county commissioners, city councilors or members of the public near the proposed site may call it up for review.
A previous version of this story erred in saying Hood Mortuary has been the only funeral service in Durango since 1902.