Efforts To Rehab Northwest Jacksonville Cemetery Stalled | News
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Fred Douglas, James Caldwell and Rev. Raymond King are a few of the dead buried and abandoned in Sunset Memorial Cemetery.
Amy Blount lives next door to the Northwest Jacksonville graveyard.
"I saw them cleaning two of them last week," said Blount.
She said nobody seemed to care. From the front of the cemetery, facing Moncrief Road, it looks like there's an effort to maintain the property, but there are hundreds of graves that are covered with debris and thick brush.
The City of Jacksonville is supposed to perform some kind of maintenance on the abandoned cemeteries, but Pastor Donnie Smith, whose church is in the community, feels no one cares.
"It is as if no one wants to do anything. There are loved ones buried there," said Smith.
Smith said no one in the Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood would use the cemetery even if they had a plot there.
"They would take their loved one somewhere else," he said.
So the vaults remain broken and desecrated to where bones are exposed.
Until there's community outrage and the lack of maintenance is addressed, the sun will continue to set on Sunset Memorial Cemetery, casting a long shadow of disgrace and dishonor for those who are buried there.
Councilwoman Denise Lee said she will get with the city to see what needs to be done.
John Shipley, President of Jacksonville Memory Garden, said he hates to see a cemetery in disrepair.
"The cemetery is a sacred place. That's all you have to say. All these people were loved by somebody," said Shipley.
Shipley said there are things a family can do so that their loved one's final resting place can be honored. First, visit the location.
"Also, check it out after a good hard rain to see if they have any low spots," he said
Shipley said to compare prices of the plot under the tree versus another location that might be cheaper.
Also in some locations, the mausoleums for above-ground burials or cremation burial plots are generally less expensive than a regular burial plot.
Shipley said it pays to start planning early.
"What it does is saves you money and number two, your kids don't have to come in and decide what do you want," he said.
Remember, the cost of a plot is separate from the cost of the casket or burial services. And there are opening and closing costs.
If you're concerned about the future condition of the cemetery, Shipley said to ask about perpetual care and the maintenance program.
"Talk with the people in the office that if you do have a problem, you feel comfortable that it will be taken care of," He said.
The bottom line: be informed and explore your options now before they're needed.
To check out a cemetery contact the Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services.