SARASOTA, Fla. -- A Sarasota cemetery warned by county code enforcement to bring the grounds up to code or be fined has brought in a grounds crew.
10News WTSP first brought you the story on Monday about the overgrown grass and weeds at Sarasota Memorial Park.
On Tuesday, workers were mowing the lawn, weeding, and edging around tombstones.
Kevin Angell and his son Chris told 10News WTSP about the problem. During Memorial Day weekend, they were walking their dog when they noticed the overgrown cemetery. Kevin complained to the property manager and filed a complaint with the county’s code enforcement.
One never expects their loved one’s last resting place to look like this.
“It’s upsetting. We saw tall grass and trees on the graves,” says Kevin.
Kevin and his son Chris called on volunteers to mow Sarasota Memorial Park and mowed a section Monday morning until they were told to leave.
But their complaint to Code Enforcement lead to a warning for property owners. A Code Enforcement officer told them to clean up the cemetery by Friday or face a notice of violation and fines.
“It’s contractual; it’s expected you paid for it. A contract is only as good as the company behind it,” says Babette Bach, a Sarasota attorney specializing in elder law. She says like anything you buy, you need to shop around for a burial plot.
Bach advises, “Check out the reputation carefully of the cemetery you purchase in.”
Just because the cemetery looks good now, Bach says it doesn’t mean it will stay that way forever. She says before buying, ask how much is in the endowment trust fund.
“By state law, 10% of the purchase price goes to a trust fund for maintenance of the property monitored by the state,” says Bach.
The Florida Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services shows a history of complaints and if needed, you can file one. “They’ll send out an investigator,” explains Bach.
Under State Law Statue §497.262, cemeteries are required to be “well cared for and maintained in a proper and dignified condition.”
Bach says, “It should not cost them money to advocate for what they paid for and the respectful care of their loved ones.”
Bach suggests you keep a digital record of the cemetery's conditions and take a photo of it the day you buy a plot, and any time you visit in case you ever need to file a complaint.
Click HERE for a consumer complaint form.