Volunteer-facilitated Sunday visitation days at Grand View Memorial Park continued on April 8 for the 45th consecutive week since ground renovations were completed there last year.
Family and friends of loved ones buried there, including local residents and some vacationing out-of-towners, took advantage of the warm spring day to commemorate Easter Sunday by bringing holiday flowers and other grave site decorations.
While most people were able to be at the cemetery during the four hour window of public visitation, others were left on the outside of the gates looking in, due to travel schedule conflicts.
Diana Meinhold from Santa Ana had hoped to arrange for her parents, aged 85 and 87, to visit relatives' graves while they were on what was likely to be their final trip to California from Ohio.
Unfortunately, they were unaware of the restricted visitations until after their trip was already booked. Their flight arrived too late to make it last Sunday and they were already on their way back home when the gates opened on Easter. Private off-hours visitations have not been permitted since Grand View closed for regular business in 2006.
As an alternative solution, last Sunday Volunteer Kathy S. located, cleaned and photographed the relatives' grave markers and provided digital images to Diana who was able to show them online to her parents who do not have a computer at home.
"This made my parents so happy! Since I know my parents will never be able to make another trip to California in their lives, having these photos for them to see each Memorial Day will be so meaningful," Diana wrote via email.
Status of Cemetery Sale
Exactly when Grand View will return to full operation remains unclear. Cemetery representatives continue to negotiate with potential buyers but say that further details are confidential. They are required to sell the cemetery to a state-approved, licensed cemetery operator under settlement terms made with the California Department of Consumer Affairs Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (CFB) in October 2007.
In the meantime, the limited visitation hours on Sunday have been extended until the end of May, with those dates subject to change without notice.
Stop The Rumors
On a side note, some visitors have told me that they've been approached by cemetery neighbors who say that once Grand View is sold it will be turned into a park, condos, etc. These rumors are false, according to everyone I've spoken to who is in-the-know. Not only are they false, they hurt and worry people with loved ones buried at Grand View and they've already been through quite enough. Grand View will remain a cemetery. If you hear of anyone spreading this gossip, please send them here to be straightened out.
Court Updates - Restoration Fund, Claimant Checks and Cemetery Protocol
The class action lawsuit filed against Grand View in 2007 was settled in late 2009. As part of the settlement, $500,000 was provided for restoration projects at the cemetery. The four primary projects identified were restoration of cemetery records, identification and appropriate storage of previously unidentified and improperly stored cremated remains, installation of a modernized watering system and rehabiliation of the grounds and landscaping.
According to documents filed in January with the Los Angeles Superior Court by plaintiff counsel and designated restoration manager Paul Ayers, work began in May 2010 and was completed in November 2011. All four projects were completed and remaining funds were used to also organize the cemetery records and to repair a hole in the roof of the West Mausoleum, exhausting the full $500,000 plus $1,690.68 accumulated interest income.
An accounting of the funds expenditure, Exhibit A, was included with the brief. Read it here. (PDF file)
Also in January, Judge Anthony J. Mohr, who has been presiding over the Grand View situation, requested a report on what, if anything, is left undone prior to closing the case completely. In February, Ayers filed a report that cited two matters:
1. Residual Monies In Class Claimant Fund: Approximately 30 class claimant checks were never cashed ("reasons unknown") and they have since expired, leaving approximately $44,044.12 in the claimant fund. Per order of the court, after reimbursing $5,941.25 to the claims administrators Desmond Marcello & Amster for additional expenses incurred by this development, the balance of the funds were deposited to Grand View's endowment care fund.
2. Orders Establishing Protocols For Cemetery Procedures: Burials of decedants who had already purchased pre-need burial rights/property at Grand View before it lost its Certificate of Authority have been conducted at the cemetery through a court order process. Court orders have also been required for disinterments, marker placements and marker alterations.
The court approved an order in March 2008 establishing these protocols as the only legal means to accomplish this work, as well as a way to preserve evidence at the cemetery while there were open lawsuits. Since the class action and all individual cases have been settled or dismissed, preservation is no longer an issue.
As such, Ayers reported that he has been having ongoing discussions with the CFB about state-issued permission rather than going through the court, and that the CFB is willing to implement a new method but that would not be finalized for 30-60 days.
Until then, the court order process remains in effect.