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Cemetery work to start next month

Grand View is expected to be closed for 15 weeks during restoration.

June 09, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — The restoration of the troubled Grand View Memorial Park is scheduled to begin next month, bringing with it an improved irrigation system and better access to cemetery records, officials said.

Using $500,000 set aside from the $3.8-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Grand View operators, the restoration is expected to close the cemetery for up to 15 weeks.

"We are optimistically looking forward for sometime in July to begin work," said attorney David Baum, who represents cemetery operator Moshe Goldsman.

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The park will have to remain closed due to safety concerns during the restoration process, said Paul Ayers, the attorney representing families from throughout the Greater Los Angeles region suing the cemetery and who was appointed to oversee the restoration.

Attorneys got a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to approve additional cemetery openings do compensate for the closure.

"One thing people are always saying is they want more openings," Ayers said.

The cemetery came under scrutiny in 2005 when investigators found the remains of more than 4,000 people who were not properly buried or disposed of.

The cemetery was shut down a year later and reopened with a new operator until closing again due to financial struggles.

City officials eventually stepped in and established temporary visits. They also secured a public nuisance abatement order forcing the cemetery to clean up the property.

Family members have since had to adhere to a set of court-ordered rules during approved visitation days.

"We are asking people to be patient during the restoration process," Baum said.

Of the restoration funds, about $300,000 to $400,000 will be earmarked for the cemetery's landscape, Ayers said.

A landscape architect will be hired to draw up plans for the underground irrigation system and restored plants, trees and grass, he said.

The cemetery has an above-ground irrigation system that uses reclaimed water. Some portions of the cemetery are also watered by hand.

The newer sprinkler system should eliminate labor costs and allow for more regular openings, Ayers said.

Grand View's main office will also be cleaned and prepped for storing cemetery records, which would make it easier for visitors to find graves, he said.

With the remaining restoration funds, Ayers said he hopes to patch up holes in the cemetery's West Mausoleum to prevent water leaks.

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