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Cemetery opens for a few hours

Family members visit their loved ones at Grand View after judge allows limited access.

May 26, 2008|By Angela Hokanson

GLENDALE — Grand View Memorial Park was opened to the public Sunday, the second such opening since the city-funded public visitations that had provided limited public access were halted in June after fire officials said the cemetery represented a safety hazard.

The grounds were first shuttered in June 2006, when the owner, Moshe Goldsman, ceased the cemetery’s operations, citing financial difficulties. The previous fall, the state had prohibited the cemetery from conducting any new business after state investigators discovered that about 4,000 bodies there had not been properly buried.

Multiple lawsuits, including a class-action lawsuit, have been brought against the cemetery by family members of those buried at Grand View.

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The city of Glendale started paying for twice-monthly public openings of the cemetery in fall 2006, but those openings ceased in June because of fire safety concerns.

In May 16, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr signed off on a court order that opened the grounds to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. A similar court-ordered public opening took place on March 30.

On Sunday, relatives and friends of those buried at the cemetery brought flowers for the deceased, and rakes and tools to maintain the grave sites.

Several visitors said they were glad to have this chance to visit the cemetery, but they looked forward to the day when the grounds were regularly accessible and they could visit at their own convenience.

Robert De Simone was there cleaning up the area around the graves of his mother, father and uncle. He would have liked to visit the shuttered cemetery on Mother’s Day, he said.

“I just wish I could come here when I want to come here,” De Simone said.

Rose Robinson was leaving flowers at the grave of her husband, Charles Robinson, who died 16 years ago. She wasn’t able to make it to the opening of the cemetery in March, so she hadn’t been inside the grounds in close to a year.

She was disappointed with the overall appearance of the grounds, including the dry grass that covered the park.

“They need to get it to look like a cemetery again, with dignity and respect,” she said.

The city attorney’s office filed a public nuisance abatement action in September, requiring that the cemetery’s owners clean up the brittle vegetation at the park.

The cemetery has trimmed trees and vegetation at the cemetery in response to that complaint, said David Baum, the attorney representing Goldsman.

“We’ve resolved all of the issues brought in the complaint,” Baum said.

Paul Ayers, one of the attorneys representing families in the class-action lawsuit, said he plans to propose to Baum that a regular, twice-a-month visitation schedule be reestablished at the cemetery.

Earlier this month, attorneys representing the families agreed on a mediator to work on reaching a settlement between the families and the cemetery. Mediation could begin by the summer, said Mary Der-Parseghian, one of the attorneys for the families.


 ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@ latimes.com.

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