SYRACUSE -- Two 35-foot-long, 18-inch-wide ruts in the lawn of Syracuse Memorial Park -- the city cemetery -- concern and sadden sisters Donna Walker and Sharon Cook.
The pair contends that the 4-inch-deep ruts, caused by what they believe to be a dual-wheeled truck, have disturbed the sacredness of the hallowed grounds. They empathize with the families whose headstones are near the grooves.
As a result of the women's complaints, Syracuse city's public works crews responded Monday with an effort to repair the markings.
"It has definitely been driven over," said Walker, who first spotted the tracks on Sept. 14 while visiting her parents' graves, within a few yards of the ruts.
"What do we pay for the care of the cemetery for?" she said, referring to the fee for perpetual care of grave markers that the city assesses families who bury loved ones in the city-owned cemetery.
Walker, of Riverdale, and Cook, of Syracuse, could not recall the fee they paid to the city in the early 1990s for the care of their parents' graves. But the two women said they know the family paid a fee for that service.
Equally disturbing, Walker and Cook point out, is that, based on the markings, the wheels of the truck suspected of causing the tracks appear to have hit the corner of an existing headstone, damaging a small grave decoration placed next to the marker.
"I'm making sure they ain't burying me here," Cook said.
Walker said whoever was driving the truck should have laid down wooden planks from the road to the grave site where a casket was recently interred to prevent or minimize damage.
Prior to contacting the Standard-Examiner, Walker said, she contacted the city and was referred to someone in public works, who indicated the ruts were a result of the ground being wet.
Not satisfied with that answer -- because there had been little rain in the area before Sept. 14 -- Walker said she contacted Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle, requesting that the city do something about the markings.
Nagle said she was "not happy" with the way the city employee initially responded to Walker's complaints.
"We want to be sensitive to the people who have loved ones buried there," Nagle said. "I really understand where they are coming from."
Nagle said she heard from Walker on Friday, but was unable to contact anyone in public works because it is closed Fridays. Nagle said she was able to get hold of Syracuse Public Works Director Mike Waite on Saturday.
Waite responded to the scene Monday with a crew, and according to Walker, who met Waite at the cemetery around noon Monday, Waite was working "shoulder-to-shoulder" with crews to repair the ruts.