Ft Rosecrans Cemetery Still Having Irrigation Problems? Director Says It Won’t Be Up to Standards Till August

by on June 3, 2013 · 3 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego, Veterans

Questions have arisen of late by Ft Rosecrans visitors about the conditions of the trees and the grass at the National Cemetery. Trees are gone and the grass is all brown.  The recent Memorial Day threw the situation at the cemetery into high relief.

Our own Widder Curry recently commented:

The widows and I went up to Ft. Rosecrans today to visit our husbands.

We were shocked to see that all the trees near their burial wall were gone. Uprooted. Patches where they used to be. And the grass was brown. All brown. No shades of green.

The cemetery is depressing enough, but seeing it in this condition was heart rendering. What is going on?

Plus a local TV station, 10News,  has also questioned the conditions out at the end of Point Loma. The station quoted several visitors to the cemetery:

“It’s just appalling; it upsets me that my dad is up here and it looks like this,” Jackie Hansen said about the condition of the grass at the 77-acre cemetery.

and this:

“I think it’s a dishonor to veterans and their families,” added Carolyn Price.

The reporter, Bob Lawrence, their military guy – said that -“it looked as though it had been abandoned.”

In response, 10News reported, they quote cemetery director Tom Mullen, who said the cemetery will be back up to “national shrine standards” by August. The reasons, he said, for the conditions are due for two reasons:

First, Mullen said there is the headstone realignment program, which by necessity requires no watering, and areas slated for headstone alignment aren’t being watered either.

The more immediate concern is the upgrade to the facility’s irrigation system.

“We’ve had a number of PVC valves fail while we automate the system. Given the amount of water that could destroy large parts of the cemetery we’ve shut the system off,” Mullen said.  Until repairs are made, Mullen said in the interim water trucks will be used and employees paid overtime to save as much of the grass as possible.

Okay. Fine.

But it was a year ago – exactly – that the Widder Curry had similar complaints:

[She wrote in August 2012:]

Three months ago when three of us went on our monthly trek, we were amazed at how dry the grass looked. It looked like the area had not been watered in weeks. It certainly did not look like a well-kept cemetery honoring our Nation’s military personnel.

Sometime in the past few months – since we had been up to see the “dying of the grass” we read that the cemetery is going to replace the grass with artificial turf. Really? Acres and acres of artificial turf? We read that it had already been started in an area not in current use. The feeling was even though it will be terrible expensive, it will save money in the long run because water will not be used, and if pipes break they do not have to be repaired.

Two months ago, three of us went back to visit our men because it was one of the widow’s birthdays, and it has been a tradition for us to visit our spouses on special days. The lawn was all torn up and it appeared that new pipes were being installed. We thought that was odd, because if artificial turf is going to be laid who needs new piping?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TomP June 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

I drive (or ride) past Ft. Rosecrans daily, so I’ve seen the realignment project cycle through the West side and now the East (bay) side. Over the last 2 years, the headstone alignment process is that they stop watering a section, scalp the dead grass, lay back all of the headstones, install and align the headstone stabilizers, set the headstones, then install rolls of sod by the semi-truck. They presumably install new pvc irrigation pipes before re-sodding, but that isn’t very noticeable when driving by. I would not worry about artificial turf: if they sodded the West side, they’ll sod the East side when they’re done.

As for the trees, I know that Cabrillo National Monument removed Myoporum trees because they were diseased and were not native (infuriating many birders). Fort Rosecrans would certainly remove diseased trees as potential safety hazards.


nostalgic June 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

As the golf courses figure out how to keep the grass green, perhaps they could provide some advice for the Cemetery. Thank you Tom P, for pointing out that something logical is actually happening. Does anybody know how many years the project is expected to take? Good to know the Artificial Turf was a red herring. I hope we will hear from the Ft. Rosecrans management themselves as to what the overall plan is.


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