POSTED: Friday, December 20, 2013 - 6:54am
UPDATED: Friday, December 27, 2013 - 9:16am
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — A park sits on old hammond highway. It's full of life, but just a few yards away, neighbors say it's a different story.
"Nobody has come to clean it or anything, and the rubbage has grown over so that you wouldn't actually know it's a cemetery," said one neighbor. So when this abandoned graveyard wasn't registered on the Louisiana cemetery board database, our cameras sat down with the Department of Public Works to see who is responsible. "This is a unique situation in dealing that it is a cemetery with default or defunct owners," said DPW Director David Guillory.
With some of its burials possibly dating back to the civil war era, that means owners could be unable to care for the land or even dead. "We'll research any owners that we may be able to contact to see if we can get them to clean up the property," said Guillory. "If not, we will have to step in to alleviate concerns from neighbors." Shelly Meadows and Coretta Brown are two of those concerned neighbors.
"It's an eyesore!" exclaimed Meadows. "There used to be an older couple that came and they kept it real clean. [We haven't seen anyone] in five years, but you can talk to that lady over there. She's been here since 1945." So that's what we did, and after nearly ten minutes, there was no answer.
While owners have ten days to respond, the growing problem continues to sprout more issues.
Some of these issues, according to Guillory are, "...Growth-over, trees, and vines, maybe poison ivy, rodents..." Meadows exclaimed, "Raccoons, and possums and cats. We had a "cat epidemic," They were living in the attic and then they had babies." In the meantime, neighbors are happy that it's getting attention, but are concerned about the circumstances.
"I think about it all the time how they're just graves forgotten about," said Brown. "Let them rest with some kind of dignity you know?"
Public works can step in where there's a threat to public safety. There's a handful of these types of cemeteries in Baton Rouge. Visit our website, as we'll follow up with DPW to find these owners.