SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - An on-going blight and code compliance battle between the city of Savannah and the owner of a privately owned cemetery on the west side may soon end.
Solutions cannot come soon enough for the people who have loved ones buried at the site. We spoke with one of those families at the Evergreen Cemetery off ACL Boulevard on Wednesday.
A final resting place for hundreds, the Evergreen Cemetery has been the target of numerous code violations over the last decade, mostly for overgrown grass and illegal dumping.
"Get ready and be very careful. I almost tripped a couple of times myself," said Jan Tyson, guiding us back to the spot where her brother Jaison's headstone should be. We say 'should' because their area has become so overgrown in just two years, it can't be seen.
"You can't even find his grave because, basically, it's buried inside of the woods. I cannot even go to his grave. I cannot put a flower on his grave," Tyson said.
Tyson knows she's just one of many voices that have called for conditions to improve at the cemetery for years.
"Basically, what I was told was this is private property, but the problem is, even though it is private property, this is a public problem," Tyson explained. "What people need to consider is that some people are not neglecting the graves because they want to neglect them. A lot of people have moved, so a lot of people are not here to tend to their families, and in some cases, some of them have even passed on themselves."
Tyson is speaking of the 'broken window' effect that a run-down lot like this can have on the surrounding neighborhood. When it comes to legal fixes to get solutions, the city says it's not that they can't continue fining the owner, who lives in Ohio.
It's just that it's not doing any good, so in a statement from the city, they say they 'are working with the owner's representative and third parties towards a tenable, long-term solution.'
An attorney representing the property owner will actually be in Recorder's Court in front of Chief Judge Tammy Stokes next Monday. We'll be sure to let you know what happens there, and what solutions are presented to fix things here at Evergreen Cemetery.