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Fate of cemetery visits is uncertain

City Council will discuss Grand View Memorial Park opening to visitors again on June 26.

June 18, 2007|By Ani Amirkhanian

GLENDALE — Visitors to Grand View Memorial Park paid their respects to loved ones buried at the cemetery on Sunday, the last scheduled visitation day.

The cemetery has been open on a limited basis since August. City officials opened the cemetery every Sunday until Jan. 15, when the schedule was changed to two Sundays per month.

On Father's Day Sunday, dozens entered the gates of the cemetery. Some prayed near the grave markers of family members and placed fresh flowers on tombstones, while others brought gardening tools to clear the dry shrubs and overgrown vegetation.

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Glendale resident Nektar Hartounian tended to her daughter's grave.

She was angry when she heard about the city's decision to close Grand View after Sunday.

"I can't believe this is happening in Glendale," Hartounian said. "Why don't they get some people to keep the water going and cut some trees?"

Hartounian wants to donate her own money to the city for the upkeep of the cemetery, she said.

"Why don't they collect money from residents to keep some lights turned on?" she said. "The city should ask the state for funding."

Nora Daniyelyan placed red roses at her son's tombstone and watered the potted plants surrounding his grave.

She felt angry and hurt at the city's lack of attention to the cemetery, she said, adding that the situation has caused stress for her family.

"We are grateful that the city has kept it open but now they are closing it," Daniyelyan said. "There is nowhere else we can go to feel at peace."

The decision to keep Grand View open for visitation is up to the City Council, which will discuss the matter on June 26.

Hasmik Avetisyan also felt the city needs to step up.

"The City Council has the power," Avetisyan, a Glendale resident, said. "They should use their power to ask the state for help."

For Glendale resident Tom Urquidez, the cemetery is a piece of Glendale history that needs to be preserved.

Urquidez's parents, who are buried there, are descendants of the Verdugo family.

"I know it's not the city's job to maintain the cemetery, but something has to be done," he said.

Grand View's troubles stem from legal battles that started in October 2005 when state inspectors found cremated remains of about 4,000 people who were never buried or properly disposed of.

A lawsuit was filed against the cemetery owner, the late Marsha Lee Howard, in November 2005.

The lawsuit alleged that under Howard's ownership, the cemetery mishandled the remains.

In June 2006, after financial difficulties, the cemetery was closed but reopened with a set schedule after outcry from the community.

Glendale resident Jerile Travis wants continued visitation days, but she also wants the city to take responsibility.

Travis, who has 22 members of her family buried at Grand View, has been going to the cemetery whenever it's been open to the public.

"It's appalling," Travis said, holding a bucket of fresh-cut flowers. "I feel like I'm losing my family again. I feel the City Council doesn't care about the residents."


  • ANI AMIRKHANIAN is a news assistant. She may be reached at (818) 637-3230 or by e-mail at ani.amirkhanianlatimes.com.

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