Arroyo Grande Cemetery criticized for condition of grounds - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Arroyo Grande Cemetery criticized for condition of grounds

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A cemetery in Arroyo Grande is getting criticism for the conditions of its grounds. Now, some visitors are taking matters into their own hands.

When Frank Miranda comes to the Arroyo Grande cemetery, he's prepared, equipped with a broom, some water and fresh flowers, all for his late wife, Mary.

"I come here about every day," said Miranda, an Arroyo Grande resident, "and say a prayer there for my wife and for my oldest boy here."

Miranda, like many others who come to visit loved ones, says the grounds are not being kept up. 

"I thought I'd bury momma here to rest in peace with the rest of them here, but it's a disgrace, look at this property here," he said. 

Uneven ground, dead grass and gopher holes are among some of the problems grievers say they find.

"It's just gotten worse. It used to be pretty nice. I guess with the drought and all they just stopped watering," said Pat Furtado, a Santa Maria resident. 

A cemetery spokesperson says the district is up against a few problems when it comes to maintaining the 20-acre property, including financial issues, staff cut backs and the drought.

"No one has to look real far to understand that we are in a drought. The City of Arroyo Grande requested that we cut back. We were actually directed by Governor Brown that all cemeteries in the state of California to cut back," said Terry Fibich, the cemetery's trustee and spokesperson. 

The cemetery gets its water from the city. After recent testing, cemetery staff says the grounds are not equipped for a well water setup and they do not plan on watering any time soon.

"Right now, our policy is we will not water until the end of rainy season, then we will water to get us through our June 1 cutoff date so that we can have the cemetery remain respectful for our memorial service," Fibich said. 

Now, some visitors are taking maintenance into their own hands.

"It's badly infested with gophers in here," Miranda said. 

"Well, sometimes, when I see a stone like that one over there that is totally covered, but I think that I should uncover them so people can see the names," said Arthur Dias, an Oceano resident. 

"It's not right to me. A place like this should be a place to rest in peace. Here, it should be nice and green and well-manicured, but it's not that way, it's not that way," Miranda said. 
The cemetery says it is planning for a gopher trapping program.

Friends and family of the Arroyo Grande cemetery are organizing a clean-up day Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. Some have also started a petition asking the cemetery district trustees to find a solution to make the grounds look nice again. 

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