Sunday, June 01, 2014

City of Toledo can't maintain what it has, but wants to add more

These are two letters to the editor published in today's Blade:

Use inmates to upkeep cemetery

When I visited the burial sites of several family members in city-owned Forest Cemetery on Memorial Day, I was shocked beyond belief.

On a day where the cemetery would have more visitors than most other days, you would at least expect mowed grounds. The condition of this cemetery is deplorable. The grounds in some sections have ankle-high weeds. Some of the grave markers have sunk and have been swallowed by weeds so that it’s hard to read the inscribed names.

When my family made arrangements for my mother’s burial, we were told the fees included the upkeep of the grounds. We are able to locate my family members’ graves because we maintain them.

I sent a letter to Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins and City Council members to express my concerns and to make a suggestion.

I proposed that city leaders employ inmates to maintain the grounds. This will give inmates an opportunity to pay it forward, where otherwise they will just sit behind bars.

Eaglebrook Road

Forest Cemetery’s condition sad

Visiting Forest Cemetery on Memorial Day to pay respects to my family, I found the cemetery to be deplorable. The only sections that were mowed were the ones along the perimeter.

The grass was so tall in the cemetery’s interior that grave markers were obscured. How sad, especially on Memorial Day.

Pasadena Bouelvard

Forest Cemetery is a city-owned property and as Frances Smith wrote, the fees paid are supposed to cover upkeep of the facility.

The problem is, Toledo spends a lot of money doing unnecessary things while the basic services for existing things suffers.

Here is the editor's note published along with the letters:

Editor’s note: A City of Toledo spokesman said: “The grass at Forest Cemetery was high in some areas, but is being cut. We do not have funding to allow the staff level necessary to cut more frequently during the high-grass season. The Collins administration understands the frustration expressed by a few who have visited the cemetery.”

First, it does not matter how "few" or many might express frustration. Those are just the "few" who chose to take the time to write or call. The city made a promise to the families of those interred there that the property would be maintained - and it's not, at least, not very well.

But the bigger issue is that the city is struggling trying to perform all the mowing and the pothole filling while members of council are debating how to spend money they don't have to open pools and pay for painting murals.

They keep finding new ways to spend instead of ensuring that the limited funds can cover the ongoing costs of what we already have.

Oh - and just to pour salt in the wound, one councilman suggested that grieving families should actually pay more for grave sites - so they can fund the pools.

No wonder the population of Toledo is declining.


BPHTOL said...

As an amateur genealogist, researching my family history, and occasionally helping out someone else with theirs, I have visited many cemeteries, probably more than a few hundred. Forest cemetery is far and away the most deplorable cemetery I've ever been in. It has been for years.
I am also interested in local history and the people who made it. I find it sad that many of our city’s founding families graves are in such disrepair. I find it sad that many of the graves there are marked for "Perpetual Care". The families paid extra for that and receive nothing. Groundskeepers knock over markers with equipment, run equipment over markers. Never are markers reset. The ground is unsafe due to holes from animals digging into it, especially the voids around the markers where the old wooden caskets beneath, have rotted away, further causing them to topple over. Many of the roads are nearly impassable. Flooding is problem. There are packs of wild/stray dogs. The old flower beds/pots are filled with weeds. There doesn’t seem to be any regular, routine maintenance of any kind.
The city accepted responsibility to maintain this and the rest of the city owned cemeteries. If the city cannot or will not maintain then properly, burials should cease immediately. I'm unaware of the laws concerning abandoned cemeteries, but I'm sure that some government entity would have to accept responsibility. If in fact they are forbidden from abandoning these cemeteries then they must allocate adequate funding in the budget for the proper care of them. Other government entities, villages, townships, cities, and counties manage to do so at a proper and respectable level. Some do it extremely well. If a privately funded, non governmental, cemetery where to operate in this fashion, I'm sure they'd be in violation on some or several laws and the city would be all over them to enforce the laws(s). Visit any of the local cemeteries, Woodlawn or Calvary and you'll not find conditions like those found at Forest. The city deserves better. The dead may still vote around here, but they don't donate to campaign funds, so they don't matter I guess.
On a personal level, the original, larger, headstones of my great grandparents at Forest, were mysteriously replaced with smaller, ground level markers at some point many years ago. No one seems to know when, why or by whom.
The relatively new city run web site, on the cities website, for getting section, plot and grave information is down and has been for more than a week, including over the memorial day holiday when some may have been trying to locate a family member buried therein. Even when the website isn't down, its design is poor and when compared to, say to the City of Oregon's website, is laughable.

Mad Jack said...

Welcome to Toledo, BPHTOL.

Of course there isn't any maintenance. Why should there be, when the city council has so many other ways to spend the money?

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