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Officials squash cemetery rumors

June 24, 2006|By Tania Chatila

NORTHWEST GLENDALE ? Rumors that Grand View Memorial Park will be sold to developers in order to build residential and commercial property at the site are just that, according to state officials.

"There are people indeed interested in buying it, but they are cemetery people," said Kevin Flanagan, a spokesman for the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

The department has received several calls from consumers concerned over talk that the cemetery will be sold to developers, and that those interred there would have to be moved, Flanagan said.

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"We've heard those stories," he said. "What I've been telling them is I'm not aware of any such move, No. 1. And two, doing something like that would take an incredible amount of court-room work."

The process of un-designating cemetery property is a lot of trouble, Flanagan said.

"You can't just buy it up and say, 'I'm going to go ahead an move all these bodies, do it over the weekend and we're ready to build a condo,'" he said.

A developer would have to contact survivors of people buried at Grand View, and any disagreements would then have to be settled in court, Flanagan said.

Valley Village resident Lindee Levicke said she heard about the rumors from a friend who lives a few blocks away from the cemetery.

"It concerned me," she said, adding that her father, mother and aunt are buried at Grand View and some of her other family members have pre-paid plots there.

State officials do not expect anything other than for Grand View to be sold as a cemetery to remain as a cemetery, Flanagan said.

"I just don't see [the developer rumor] happening, not when you have a perfectly viable cemetery there that has room for additional burials," he said.

Grand View locked its gates indefinitely on June 13 despite operator Moshe Goldsman's efforts to keep it open amid months of financial strife.

Goldsman said he had to let 70% of the park's staff go, sought alternate ways to find funding and had to conserve on water and electricity to keep the cemetery running as long as he did since November, when the state suspended any new cemetery business pending an investigation into its past practices.

He called it a "day-to-day struggle" to keep Grand View open.

But those who own plots or who have family interred there are growing impatient about the cemetery's future.

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