Except it's not true.
Cemetery Memorial Park is not a dog park. Ensuring that it isn't treated like one was exactly what Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sharon Troll was complaining about when she made the comment that is now making the news.
Anyone who knows Sharon Troll knows that when it comes to honoring the spirit of veterans, no one in the country takes a back seat to her. Her point was exactly the opposite of how it is being portrayed. Like her colleagues, Commissioner Troll has long urged the City and County Animal Control to better enforce our leash laws (a problem at all our parks and beaches.) She wants the law enforced so the departed at Cemetery Memorial Park get the respect they deserve.
Ventura does have a dog park, but it is not at Cemetery Memorial Park. Unfortunately, not all dog owners obey the law or give appropriate respect to the unique history and presence of the graves there.
Retired Marine Sgt. Craig "Gunny" Donor has made a request to move the remains of Pvt. James Sumner, who was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Indian wars and died in Ventura with no heirs in 1912. Donor would like Sumner's remains re-interred at a National Veteran's Cemetery.
That request is under consideration by the Parks and Recreation Commission. Over the past three years, the Commission has devoted countless hours to reassessing the decisions made over half a century ago to turn the dilapidated and largely abandoned cemetery into a "memorial park." Their goal has been to appropriately memorialize the unique nature of the site where 3,000 Ventura pioneers are buried. In reacting to Sgt. Donor's request, some local historians and next of kin say they don't want the site disturbed. Others want it restored as accurately as possible to its original condition instead. Last year, the City Council approved a design to repair some damaged historic walls, improve the Veteran's memorial on the site and create a fitting memorial to the memory of all who remain buried there.
There's an old saying, "it's an ill wind that blows no good." As people of good will talk about the best way to honor the spirit of the departed at Cemetery Memorial Park, including the remains of Sgt. Sumner, one hopes that the casual strollers who bring their dogs to the beautiful area will take respectful heed of the ground they are walking on. At their last meeting, the Parks and Recreation Commission approved the design for three signs that will be erected next week to remind visitors of the hallowed ground they are walking on.
One hopes as well that the remains of Sgt. Sumner aren't exploited for cheap sensationalism to fill talk show airtime. A brave soldier, his spirit deserves to rest in peace, wherever his earthly remains are ultimately located.