Here is his reply. I'll post on what I think about it tomorrow,
but at least you can have a look. I give him credit for
responding. Especially since he knows I can't vote for or against
Dear Mr. V,
Thanks for writing about Cemetery Memorial Park. Here in
, this is an important issue to us and has been for
many years. As a former journalist, I know that sometimes the full
story doesn’t get reported in a sound bite, so I’d like to offer a
couple of facts and a bit of perspective to clear things up.
Most important, Cemetery Memorial Park isn’t a dog park, as
reported in the media. We do have designated dog parks, but those
are elsewhere in town. Cemetery Memorial Park is still a cemetery,
but it is also designated as a City Park. As in our other city
parks, dogs are permitted on leashes and owners must clean up
I live only a few blocks away from the park, and like most
residents I regard it as a semi-sacred space, best used for quiet
reflection. It is only a short distance from our busy downtown,
and the serenity and spectacular ocean views are well-suited for
this purpose, which I believe is in keeping with its status as a
The history of Cemetery Memorial Park does, indeed, has its
shameful aspects, but I believe we must recognize both the good
and the bad as part of its history. The cemetery began to
deteriorate during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when its
owners – a local Presbyterian church and the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Los
– stopped maintaining it. The City took over
maintenance at that time and new burials in the cemetery ceased.
Almost half a century ago, when I was a little boy on the other
side of the country, the City Council made a series of unfortunate
decisions. Unable to maintain the cemetery (headstones were
falling over, etc.), the City removed the headstones.
The City offered descendants the option of removing their loved
ones and/or taking the headstones.
Even so, there are
some 3,000 persons still buried in the cemetery, including many of
our most important early residents, and many headstones are in
private possession in Ventura and elsewhere. Some graves are
marked with flat markers.
In recent years, we have devoted a lot of effort to figuring out
how we can honor those still buried in the cemetery and also
acknowledge the good and the bad about the cemetery’s history.
Anyone can commemorate a grave by purchasing a flat marker for
$300; if the request comes from a direct descendant, the City will
provide the marker for free. In addition, the City is preparing a
memorial to those buried in Cemetery Memorial Park that will
including a listing of their names and some of the headstones.
This has been a very difficult and emotional issue in our
community and I am glad that we are taking these steps to honor
all those concerned.
Regarding the remarks of Sharon Troll, our Parks and Recreation
commissioner, let me just say this: Sharon has been a dedicated
and beloved member of our community who has provided us with great
service for many decades. She has devoted her life to improving
the lives of children in our poorest neighborhood, including the
children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of veterans. She
does speak bluntly; but from your vantage point elsewhere in the
country I would ask you to judge her not on one ill-advised remark
which happened to be reported in the national media but on a
lifetime of remarkable service to my community. I would hope that
all of us wish to be judged by that standard.
Although I am not personally a veteran, I have great respect and
gratitude for those who have served our nation. My brother and two
of my nephews have served our nation in times of war. Thank you
very much for your service.
You can learn more about the background of this situation by
reading our City Manager's blog here:
City of Ventura,
@MayorFulton on twitter