PORTLAND -- The regional government, Metro, is bringing change to its 14-pioneer cemeteries and not everyone is supportive of the move.
The agency is enforcing rules, long in place but ignored, that limit the types of decorations or monuments that can be placed at a grave site.
Ken Jones placed his parent’s ashes at one of the sites in the Lone Fir Cemetery on Portland’s east side. He also built a stone bench, planted a tree, a rose bush, put flowers in pots and installed solar lights at the site.
“This is my parent’s grave site. They’ve been here 19 years. And I did the planting and the tree, as a memorial tree. It’s a dogwood,” he said.
With Metro’s new enforcement, he may be forced to get rid of the flower pots and he’s already taken away the solar lights.
Jones is also a former president of “Friends of Lone Fir” and is now pushing back against Metro.
“I’m asking them to look at it sight by site type thing. If a site is not being kept up very well then yes we need to do something. But if there’s new flowers then obviously somebody’s around, somebody’s caring for it,” he said.
Many graves at Lone Fir have memorials built up around them. Some use river rock to create a border. Others use cement scallop shell designs and still others use paving stones to create a border at the grave. Some graves have crushed white rock on the top.
Metro Director of Parks Paul Slyman said the memorials make it hard to maintain the property.
“The rule has always been in place that they were not allowed,” Slyman said. “So about two years ago we gave notice that we’re gradually gonna start cleaning up these cemeteries.”
Metro already made the change at its 13 other cemeteries. Now informational signs dot grave sites that break the rules at Lone Fir. Letters were also sent to site owners in five languages announcing the extra displays must go.
Slyman said over the last two years, roughly 400 people were notified and about a dozen complained. The rest complied. The grave site owners have 30 days to remove the extra memorials or METRO will do it themselves.