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Mistake that killed grass at Salt Lake City Cemetery will take time, as much as $600,000 to put right

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Posted at 8:13 PM, Mar 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 23:46:07-04

By Matt McDonald

SALT LAKE CITY -- A place of solace. A place to pay your respects. A place people expect to be kept beautiful with loving care befitting their dearly departed. Instead, the Salt Lake City Cemetery is streaked with brown grass, and it's all because of a mistake.

"It is looking pretty bad and this particular area looks worse than most," said Bryan Flannery, who was visiting his dad's grave on what would have been his 90th birthday.

He understands the mistake and is confident it will be fixed, but he's grateful after wondering if the cemetery simply hadn't been watered, to finally have an explanation.

In September of last year, an employee applied an herbicide. It's routine for that time of year and is meant to kill out the broad leaf weeds. But this time the wrong herbicide was used.

"This is going to be an area that will most likely be power raked and new grass seed," said Rick Graham, Director of Public Services for Salt Lake City as he bent to show a patch of brown grass.

Raked to bare soil, seed will be spread across the 41-acres that have been impacted. The cemetery itself is just 100 acres. The repairs will take time and a little help from Mother Nature. But, even with all the help in the world, it's doubtful it will be fast enough.

"It will be impossible to make all the corrections by Memorial Day," Graham said.

The repairs will cost between $250,000 and $600,000--with the money coming from the city's general fund. Access during the repair work will be restricted, but cemetery staff will work to ensure everyone will be able to visit their loved ones.

For Bryan Flannery, visiting his dad's grave, a little brown grass fails to take away from the importance of his father's final resting place.

"Still a hallowed area and you know, I'm sure it will come back," Flannery said.