Watch CBS News

Family disappointed after Chelsea cemetery is left locked and a "wreck" for Memorial Day

Man says keeping cemetery tidy and open for visitors on Memorial Day should be "very basic"
Man says keeping cemetery tidy and open for visitors on Memorial Day should be "very basic" 02:28

CHELSEA - One man was hoping to decorate some of his relatives' headstones at Chelsea Garden Cementary for Memorial Day, but instead, he was met with an overgrown, neglected, and locked cemetery.

"Why did I ever bury my father here?"

"Memorial Day is always a sad occasion in the sense we celebrate the lives of people who lost their lives. I can't even do that here. Because you can't get in, it's a wreck," Stephen Dodge said as he fought back tears. 

"This has always been a difficult visit every Memorial Day," he said.

Trash and building materials litter the ground of the cemetery. CBS Boston

There are building materials and debris near gravesites, large branches blocking headstones, and several have toppled over. 

Dodge says his family's plot is completely overgrown. 

"My father wouldn't want me to say this, but really, the only time I saw him cry was when we came up here one year, and we had to bring our own lawn mower to cut our plot, and he said 'why did I ever bury my father here,'" he said. 

Dodge has relatives who have been buried there since the late 1800s. 

Five-year restoration of the cemetery

He says the city promised to cut this cemetery by Memorial Day, but that did not happen. The gate is still locked, so family members can't visit loved ones. 

Toppled headstones and overgrown grass can be seen from the gates of Chelsea Garden Cemetery. CBS Boston

"There's just a couple of things that I think the city should be able to do, and it's a one-and-only cemetery. One is to cut the grass for Memorial Day and put a decent American flag up on Memorial Day. It's something very basic," Dodge said.

WBZ-TV spoke with the city manager during Chelsea's special 400-year anniversary and Memorial Day Ceremony.

"I apologize for any inconvenience," Fidel Maltez said. 

He says the city has made a huge investment in the cemetery and is currently in the middle of a five-year restoration project. 

"The entire gates were replaced, and the retaining wall were also replaced. And we are going through a restoration process of the headstones. It's is a long journey," Maltez said.

Cemetery to remain locked

A city worker replaced the American flag soon after the interview, but for now, the cemetery will remain locked for safety concerns.

It brings little comfort to Dodge, who wants to honor his family members on Memorial Day. 

"The damage has been done. It's just very sad, and there aren't many people who still come here to decorate the stones," Dodge said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.