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Community members upset over lack of upkeep at Mount Zion Cemetery

The neglected cemetery is having an emotional burden on people in the community.
It’s a loved one’s final resting place. A place where you can visit and pray or reflect on memories. A place to find peace. But there’s no peace at Mount Zion Cemetery in Lansdowne.

By: Xavier Wherry
WMAR TV,  May 09, 2024

LANSDOWNE, Md. — It’s a loved one’s final resting place. A place where you can visit and pray or reflect on memories. A place to find peace. But there’s no peace at Mount Zion Cemetery in Lansdowne. Instead, it’s disappointment and frustration.

The neglected cemetery is having an emotional burden on people in the community. The grass is knee-high. Gravesites covered with tree branches, littered with trash, and some tombstones toppled over.

“When you come out and it looks like this, it’s very heartbreaking,” says Catherine Simmons, who was out visiting some of her deceased family members.

She says the lack of upkeep over the past few years is distasteful.

“At the time of burial, we paid money, and [in] some cases a lot of money, for a plot here for a gravesite. So yes, it’s very disrespectful to the dead and to the family members that are still living,” says Simmons.
She’s not alone.

Edward Garner says he comes out to the site once a week.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. To enjoy the intimate moment with the person he was closest with, he says he has to do someone else’s job.

“Now I’m planning my day once I get off work. Even if it’s dark, to cut down some grass so I can make my way to my mom’s gravesite because it’s so bad. I don’t think a regular lawnmower would help. That’s how tall the grass is,” says Garner.

He says it’s so bad, he’s had to console other strangers visiting their loved ones.

“The family member that was out there yesterday, he just broke down and started crying…all I could do is say we’re gonna get through this,” says Garner.

There’s confusion about who owns the property and who is responsible for its maintenance.

Back in 2022, the Maryland Department of Labor said Baltimore AME Church owned the property. We reached out to their lawyer Kadijah Ali for confirmation. Late afternoon, WMAR got an answer.

“They are not the owners. They are not on the deed. There is no deed…transfer of deed that shows my clients are the owners,” says Ali. WMAR also reached out to the county code enforcement office. People there say it’s not the county’s property. However, their top priority is tending to the community’s needs. They say they are looking for a solution. The code enforcement office is working with a third-party contractor to get the property cleaned up. A temporary solution to a problem these family members want fixed ASAP.

Source: https://www.wmar2news.com/local/community-members-upset-over-lack-of-upkeep-at-mount-zion-cemetery 

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