Cemetery openings announced

Judge releases 14 dates through June when people can visit Grand View Memorial Park.

December 23, 2008|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Visitors will be allowed to access their loved ones’ graves during 14 more openings at Grand View Memorial Park next year.

Civil Court Judge Anthony Mohr ordered the opening of the cemetery Jan. 11 and 25; Feb. 8 and 22; March 8 and 22; April 10, 12, 24 and 26; May 10 and 24; and June 14, 21 and 28, according to a Dec. 8 court report.

The cemetery will be open from noon to 4 p.m. during the openings.

“It’s very important to them,” said attorney Mary Der-Parseghian, who represents families suing the cemetery.

The announcement of the openings gives families and friends an opportunity to plan out their visits and allows them to celebrate special holidays at the cemetery, she said.


“That way, they have a concrete schedule to the end of June,” Der-Parseghian said. “Once you have a set schedule, it allows people to have their plans.”

The cemetery has been closed since 2006 after a controversy that began in October 2005 when state investigators found the remains of 4,000 people at Grand View that had not been properly buried or disposed of.

In November 2005, the state removed operator Marsha Lee Howard from her position and prohibited the cemetery from conducting any new business.

Moshe Goldsman took over as operator but closed the cemetery less than a year later due to financial difficulties.

During the closure, some visitors were climbing over the cemetery walls to see their loved ones’ graves, said attorney Paul Ayers, who represents families suing the cemetery.

To satisfy visitors who wanted access to their loved ones’ graves, the city stepped in for many months and opened the cemetery for four hours a week. But the city had to stop the openings due to financial and fire-hazard issues.

The city obtained a public-nuisance abatement order in August 2007 against the property that allowed it to bypass legal hurdles and do the cleanup work itself.

It remained closed as Goldsman fixed the irrigation system and made other improvements.

The recent rainstorms turned the dry cemetery grounds into a lush, green park, Der-Parseghian said.

“The weather has really helped out,” she said. “It looks better now.”

At a Sept. 18 hearing, Mohr granted several openings for this year, including Christmas Day, and next year, including Jan. 1 and 6.

Volunteers, including Ayers, Der-Parseghian, her family and staff, have manned the visitation hours during the limited openings.

“It’s kind of like having a steam engine that’s going to blow,” Ayers said.

“You need to release the steam. I think that’s what the openings do.”

Since the openings, a judge has allowed about 30 people to be buried and 30 people to be disinterred from the cemetery, he said.

Lawyers representing the families hope to resolve lawsuits against the cemetery in the future, so that they can “focus on getting the cemetery back in order,” Ayers said.

A hearing regarding the cemetery is scheduled at 10 a.m. Feb. 9 at the Central Civil West Court, 600 S. Commonwealth Ave. in Los Angeles.

 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at

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