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City plans fixes for cemetery in disrepair

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Updated: 7/25/2013 6:04 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.--  After years of neglect and years of helter-skelter, a resting place off 45th and Moncrief will finally get some attention. We showed you the problems at mount olive cemetery -- where tombstones are toppled, crypts are cracked open, and the grass is overgrown.
“They’re just abandoned. Not taken care of,” Bracy Taylor said.

The caretakers of Mount Olive died off years ago, meaning upkeep now falls to the city of Jacksonville. Knowing that, we took our questions to Director of Communications David DeCamp.

“What is your level of responsibility from the city's standpoint?" we asked.
“Well basically, we've taken a look through our Parks and Maintenance division in the last month or so and come up with an action plan to improve the situation out there,” he replied.

We got our hands on the specific plan DeCamp was talking about. In addition to mowing, crews will:
-remove two large dead trees and tree debris pile
-fill and level holes
-replace five crumbled vault lids
-remove old scattered artificial flowers
-replace the entrance gate
“We recognize the sensitivities that folks have there and we want to protect what's there, under the obligations that we have,” DeCamp said.

Mount Olive's revamping will be paid for through the city's cemetery care trust fund-- which is separate from tax dollars. Of the approximate $136,000 in it, $14,500 will go to Mount Olive.

“In this case, we see that we need to step in and take care of what has become an abandoned cemetery and we're willing to do that."

As for Bracy Taylor and his quest to locate his father's burial plot, the city can't help with that. The latest inventory in 2008 shows hundreds of people are unidentified in Mount Olive, including Taylor's father. Back then, funeral home directors and pastors would count plots and label folks that way. When they passed away, records went with them.
Taylor says he'll continue the fight to find his father, but is grateful at least something is being done to spruce the area up. DeCamp says the city will do its part to uphold its end of the bargain.

“Is it that help in on the way? ‘Hey, you guys are paying attention at the top?’ What is your message to the citizens?” we asked.
“We're going to follow the law, but also going to use the resources we can to make improvements to the grounds,” he said.

The city says work will start on Mount Olive as soon as the contractor can begin.

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