In response to an incident reported by Taylor Viydo/KREM 2 re: a family that was locked in Riverview Cemetery on 4th of July, Deputy City Administrator Sam Taylor comments:
We deeply regret that this incident occurred and I want to shed some light on the details.
Every year, the City locks up tennis courts on Independence Day in order to prevent people from launching fireworks from them. The courts can be damaged by launching incendiary devices off of them. We also lock the cemeteries during Halloween, as they can become frequent haunts for people who might damage areas of this sensitive property.
This year, a Parks worker thought it would be appropriate to also lock the two City-owned cemeteries (Forest and Riverview) in order to prevent fireworks from being launched in the cemetary. This was fully intended to help prevent damage to this sensitive property, too.
Parks workers spoke with the family to notify them it was going to be closed, and they declined to leave the cemetary. Their vehicles were parked outside of the grounds, and so the worker locked up the fence with a chain, but locked it at the very last link so that they could get through the opening on foot. A lead parks worker came by after the locking, too, to further discuss the issue with the family.
Parks Director Bill Greenwood received a phone message from the family and he has contacted them back. He left a message and has not heard anything, but we did hear they contacted the local news.
We absolutely regret this incident and the Parks & Recreation Department has determined that they will no longer close and lock the cemetary on the Fourth of July. Our intent was fully and absolutely to protect this sacred ground from fireworks damage, and we understand the family's concerns.