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Attorney: Help cemetery with openings

Volunteers needed to clean grounds at Grand View Memorial Park. He also urges visitors to follow the rules.

October 15, 2009|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Those with loved ones buried at Grand View Memorial Park will be able to visit graves through the holiday season after a judge ordered the cemetery open for another nine days.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Wiley ordered the cemetery be opened Nov. 1, 15 and Thanksgiving Day; Dec. 13 and Christmas Day; New Year’s Day and Jan. 6, the day many Armenians celebrate Christmas; Jan. 10 and 24. Visitations are from noon to 4 p.m.

Attorney Paul Ayers, who represents a group of plaintiffs suing the former operators of the cemetery for mismanagement, suggested that if friends and family wanted to keep the cemetery open, they should volunteer to help at openings and obey all court-ordered rules.

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“It is very important that there be no smoking, fires or use of incense during the opening,” he said. “Violations of this rule can cause the Glendale fire marshal to oppose further openings.”

Visitors are allowed to clean grave markers, trim dried grass with hand tools, water the grass and leave tribute items on the graves, according to the court order.

Multiple lawsuits and a class-action lawsuit were filed against the cemetery by family members of people buried at the cemetery.

The cemetery has been closed since June 2006, a year after state investigators found the remains of 4,000 people who had not been properly buried or disposed of. The state removed operator Marsha Lee Howard in November 2005 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.

The city then stepped in to satisfy residents wishing to visit the cemetery. The city opened the park for several months until financial issues and fire hazards closed the gates again.

The city obtained a public-nuisance abatement order against the property in August 2007 that allowed it to bypass legal hurdles and do the cleanup work itself. The memorial park remained closed as Goldsman fixed the irrigation system and made other improvements.

Interments have been allowed and performed since the cemetery closed, but have been authorized through a judge’s approval, Ayers said.

Two to three burials are conducted every month at the cemetery, he said. And most of those burials were of people who wanted to be next to their spouses.

Since the cemetery’s closure, visitation has been limited and court-ordered, and openings are manned by attorneys and a returning group of volunteers.

Attorney David Baum, who represents Goldsman, is looking for more volunteers in order to hold a clean-up day, which he said he hopes to host before a visitation day.

He remained confident that the lawsuit would be resolved soon.

“We just trying to be patient and hopefully next year, everything will be a lot better,” Baum said.


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