HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) -- A historic cemetery in Hampton is not getting the attention community members say it needs.
After seeing broken headstones, misplaced veteran’s headstones, neglect and more volunteers are stepping up.
Constance Latta was born and raised in Hampton. Her grandparents and parents are all buried at the Historic Oakland Cemetery on East Pembroke Avenue. She's watched for years now how the cemetery has fallen apart.
“It's just so sad,” Latta says. “This was a beautiful cemetery at one time.”
Latta says the owners abandoned their property. Public records show the owners now live in Florida.
According to the Communications Strategist for the city of Hampton, the owners owe more than $40,000 dollars in back taxes.
However, Oakland and many other cemeteries in the city have no value now.
“I look around and think this could be my family out here, and I wouldn't want them to be disrespected,” volunteer Nancy Sheppard says.
Hampton’s Communications Strategist said in email,
“The problem of older cemeteries that are no longer cared for is a problem in Hampton and all older cities in the state. The cemeteries are all private property, and the city is very limited in what we can do. Our ability to enforce grass-cutting laws is limited, especially when we can’t locate any owners. The care of these private properties is not a Hampton taxpayer responsibility.”
Now volunteers like Latta and Sheppard are stepping up to the plate to take care of the old cemetery, but they need more help from plot owners, organizations. They’re also searching for donations and hope to do fundraisers.
The Hampton Clean City Commission helps organize/connect/group volunteers for cleanup projects. Oakland has had many volunteers who have mapped grave sites and done quite a bit of work.
“We need more people of my generation to come out here to help,” Sheppard says.
You can reach the organizers on their Facebook page.