The Park Record editorial, July 11-13, 2012 |

The Park Record editorial, July 11-13, 2012

Despite tragedy, cemetery should remain open to public

Behind an ornate metal gate, Park City’s 150-year-old Glenwood Cemetery serves as a final resting place for about 900 of the town’s early settlers and is cared for by a devoted group of volunteers.

At least twice a year, on Memorial Day and the last Sunday in October, the grounds are filled with visitors some to pay their respects to loved ones, others to absorb the lore Park City’s hardscrabble mining days.

During the rest of the year, the cemetery’s spirits play host to a random but steady assortment of mourners, history buffs, artists and hikers. While the steel gate is almost always locked to block motorized traffic, a small opening invites the public to wander, respectfully, among the rough-hewn gravestones. And many do.

But last week, the Glenwood’s peaceful atmosphere was shattered by a tragic accident. A child unintentionally toppled one of the cemetery’s taller tombstones and was pinned underneath it. His horrified family tried to free him but they were unsuccessful and the boy died.

Since the accident, the cemetery has been closed. Caution tape blocks the pedestrian entry and the volunteers who help to maintain the grounds are grappling with how to proceed. They are scheduled to meet Thursday.

The members of the Glenwood Cemetery Association are in a difficult position.

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The responsibility for maintaining the gravestones belongs to the families of the deceased, many of whom are long gone themselves. Members of the organization groom the grounds with a light hand, intentionally cultivating the naturally occurring wildflowers, shrubs and trees. The minimal funds collected during the fall’s Spirits of Glenwood storytelling event are used for basic upkeep. But, for the most part, volunteers do not handle the headstones. To do so would be expensive and would also force them to assume liability for accidents such as the one that occurred last week.

Therein lies the rub.

The Glenwood Cemetery’s charm and its historic authenticity are dependent on its untrammeled paths and overgrown vines. As the group’s leader, Bruce Erickson aptly described the ancient burial ground: "It is Park City’s ongoing storybook."

We would encourage the city and members of the Glenwood Association to reopen the cemetery just as it was before, perhaps with some additional cautionary signage about the older headstones.

Our hearts go out to the family of the young boy who was killed and we hope that someday they will be able to return to a place they obviously cared about, to mourn peacefully and without guilt.

We also hope the accident will not force the closure of Park City’s storybook, and that this chapter, like the ones before it, will someday be remembered and respectfully retold as a way of honoring those whose spirits are forever entwined with the Glenwood Cemetery.