Open Graves Terrify Neighbors At First Coast Cemetery | News

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Open Graves Terrify Neighbors At First Coast Cemetery

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's like a scene from a horror movie, or as one neighbor describes it, a nightmare: open graves here on the First Coast.

DATABASE: Registry of Historic Cemeteries in Florida

"It's sick. It's not sad, it's sick," said Jon Ferguson.

Ferguson is disgusted with the condition of Sunset Memorial in near Moncrief Rd. on the Northside.

"I have seen bones on the ground in there," he said.  

In the cluster of cemeteries in the area, there are a number of open graves with bones visible and caskets destroyed.

The grounds are in complete disrepair.

"There are a few that are in very very poor shape," he said.  

Ferguson was a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2007 that tried to figure out what to do with all of the city's broken down graveyards.

By his count, there are more than 150 in the city, and many of them are in rough shape.

'We devote Mondays to that, and we have put thousands of miles on our cars going to every single cemetery," he said.

The five on the Northside are supposed to be protected by the Cemetery Maintenance Trust Fund.

The city created the fund in 1994 to clean up the mostly African American graveyards on the historic register.

But Amy Blunt has lived next door to Sunset since 1964, and she's still not clear on the plan.

"I don't know who is supposed to clean it and whose not! I'm not getting into it because I know I'm not supposed to clean it," said Blunt.

And the broken down entryway?

"I don't know who is supposed to fix it! I don't," she said.  

Ownership of the cemeteries is still unclear.

But legally binding or not, Ferguson thinks if the city made a commitment to keep them clean, it's time to step up.

"The city didn't want to do that, but nobody else was doing it. And the city is not doing a great job," he said.

More than how it looks, though, Ferguson said he's worried about safety at the cemetery.



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