GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) - The makeover of a New Mexico cemetery has some families outraged.
They say it is disrespectful and it is damaging grave sites.
The owner says she wants to make this small-town cemetery look nice by re-landscaping it, but some people are fed up with how she is going about it.
“It is ugly. It is not peaceful. It is sad,” Dina Rosales said.
"We all cried. Everything was in mud,” Maureen Dassie said.
“I was really disturbed at what I saw,” Liz Bigley said.
Sunset Memorial Park is under renovation to cover what is now dirt with a few patches of grass with a fine, compact gravel.
But people are concerned with how that change is happening.
“I felt like they were treating it like it was a parking lot,” Bigley said. “The headstones just looked like they were pushed around like rocks.”
Rollie Mortuary owner Jenny Gaze acquired the cemetery in 2009.
She said workers do have to lift the headstones to remove the top layer of dirt before replacing it with a fine, compact gravel.
“It is nicer. It is cleaner, easier to maintain, and that is what we are trying to do, make it nice,” Gaze said.
She said everything is put back where it belongs.
“What they are seeing and what we are doing is a process,” Gaze said. “It is not that we're being disrespectful to anyone
It has also been a long process—2 1/2 years so far--and it is nowhere near finished.
Critics say it is not worth the time or money and point to damage they say was caused by the renovation. Bigley claims her grandparents’ headstone was cracked.
“It was not cracked before this rock was put in,” she said.
Rosales said the vase at a family member’s grave was buried in the process.
“The remains of it is not even to be found,” she said.
Gaze said she doesn't know of the renovation causing any damage. She said, if it did, she would pay to fix it.
Gaze estimates the project will cost her more than $200,000 when it is completed.
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