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Grieving families disgusted by trash piles in Cranston cemetery

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Piles of trash and dangling tree limbs are scattered throughout the Oakland Cemetery in Cranston – a problem Call 12 For Action first looked into back in 2014.

Recently, we received complaints from several viewers who say the mess at the cemetery is still growing – and is disrespectful to the dead.

John Santosuosso told Call 12 For Action he brings his 8-year-old daughter to the cemetery when she wants to visit her mom.

“We wanted her close to home. Every time we come here, I bring my daughter here to see her mother and it’s disgusting,” he said.

Pasha Love passed away two-and-a-half years ago and Santosuosso said he tried to keep her plot clean. But all around her final resting place, piles of garbage have grown.

“She deserves better than to be laid in a trash bin,” he said.

For months, Santosuosso said he has been trying to place a headstone at Love’s grave – but he hasn’t been able to get in touch with Russell Dodd, the owner of the cemetery.

“He doesn’t respond, he doesn’t answer calls,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

Cranston city leaders say they haven’t been able to reach Dodd, either.

“He never calls us back. Unable to leave a message,” said Jeffrey Barone of Cranston Constituent Affairs. “So we’re really at a standstill and it’s a sad situation.”

Back in 2014, two families contacted Call 12 For Action with similar concerns. Over the years, inspectors from Cranston’s Building, Zoning and Minimum Housing Department have inspected the property several times. The city has issued a stack of violations – and we’ve learned that is really all they can do.

“It’s privately owned, so we’re limited as to the resources we can utilize to get this cleaned up,” Barone said. “Basically, what we do is if there’s a volunteer group that’s willing to go in and clean it up, the city will provide the bags, we can provide the pickup the next day to get the trash out.”

In 2014, Dodd told us he didn’t have the money to maintain the cemetery, saying families who go there to grieve are to blame for the mess because they leave their trash behind.

Santosuosso said he is willing to do some heavy lifting to help clean up the burial ground.

“There’s actually people buried under the trash,” he said.

According to Santosuosso, he hopes others will help him – so those laid to rest in the Oakland Cemetery can rest in peace.Call 12 For Action tried to get in contact with Dodd again, but he has not answered our calls. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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