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Forest Hills Cemetery getting ready to re-open its grounds - except to dog walkers, bicyclists and joggers

Forest Hills Cemetery announces that it will soon re-open its grounds to the public, but with a major change: Only strollers will be allowed; people with dogs or who want to bicycle or jog will have to find someplace else for that.

We require all visitors to be respectful of our primary purpose which is to bury the dead and to provide a peaceful and tranquil setting for their families and friends.

We realize that this is a substantial change in policy and thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. Please note that any visitor not abiding by the new rules will be asked to leave the property.

The announcement did not give a specific date.

Cemetery officials shut the grounds to the general public last month.

H/t Ron.

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Comments

Wonderful! Let's hope all visitors are respectful so Forest Hills doesn't have to close its gates again.

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Voting closed 48

I hear people have been dying to get in there.

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Voting closed 15

they'll let you in even if you show signs of coffin

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Voting closed 8

Arboretum should also ban dog walkers. Too many dogs are off-leash.

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Voting closed 78

Yes! And the same for Millenium Park in West Roxbury -- an off leash german shephard jumped up on me, wouldn't quit and bit my hand while the owner was too busy texting to pay attention to her aggressive dog. No apology, no acknowledement, no putting the leash back on her dog. Per usual, entitled brats spoil privileges that responsible dog owners enjoy.

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Voting closed 55

I would have. It needed to be tested for rabies, and the dog owner needed to be put on notice. If the bite turned out to be a serious injury, you might also need the owner identified.

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Voting closed 7

If you were actually bitten by an off-leash dog, you should have filed a police report to have dangerous behavior addressed.
Now if you're embellishing the story on an internet comment board to play up a common gripe, that's another matter....
So can you post a redacted copy of the report here?

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Voting closed 7

The arboretum already bans off leash dogs. There are signs all over the arbs noting that dogs must be on leash. What’s needed is for people to respect the rules and other humans and leash their dogs!

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Voting closed 43

on off-leash dogs in the Arboretum. Ever since they started to strictly enforce dogs on leashes, I see everyone complying. This is in the main part of the Arboretum and I'm there for a couple of hours daily.

There are regular patrols by Park Rangers, Boston Animal Control, and the Arboretum's own ambassadors.

I don't go to Millennium because of all the off leash dogs.

If you want to talk about cyclists riding off the pavement in the Arboretum, then I'm all ears.

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Voting closed 28

Do you need a photo/video proof? I have plenty. They do it off main roads of course where rangers/ambassadors don't go.

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Voting closed 11

I don't need to see photos and videos. I'm trying not to get in a progressively vigilante mode during this period and I've seen almost everything that can happen in the Arboretum over the past 30 years.

Are there inconsiderate dog owners--a few. It's pressure from responsible dog owners that mitigate the situation. There are also inconsiderate people all over the Arboretum (like in life), who throw away masks, beer cans, and coffee cups; they picnic (also against the rules), ride off road, climb trees, let their kids break branches, etc.

The Arboretum ambassador's phone number is on the electronic signs at all the entrances. If you want to report a problem, just call them. They drive off road on the paths as do the rangers. Animal Control always responds to complaints. It's not the wild west.

The overwhelming majority know it's important to respect the park and visitors so it will remain open. We are so lucky to have it.

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Voting closed 17

Why don’t they just enforce the actual rules on the books already. I walk in both Arboretum and the cemetery regularly and I think that the worst people in both are not the dog walkers. I think if you just start to actual cute people who are letting their dogs off leash you will actually see a reduction in the behavior.

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Voting closed 5

I understand and sympathize with the dog walkers (with dogs on leashes!), bikers and joggers but ... this is a cemetery so more contemplative, slower pace activities seem more appropriate honestly. I'm glad it's open for the walking public.

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Voting closed 71

The jogger/cyclist hate has really ramped up as of late but this isn't one of those cases. It's respectful to make it clear a cemetery isn't the same as a public park. Lots of cemeteries prohibit cyclists and runners even in normal times and it's a fine policy.

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Voting closed 63

It makes more sense to make the surrounding streets safer for cyclists and joggers and not have people roving through a bad mix of randomly wandering traffic like in a cemetery.

I have been known to walk my bike through the local cemetery and the paths and roads really aren't well suited to cycling for a number of reasons. I much prefer the roadways around it, especially now that the city put in bike lanes on the busiest road. They are perhaps less direct, but quicker. We did sometimes take the kids there with their bikes when they were young and slow, but then the local park was renovated with a multi-use dirt track perimeter that was much better suited to learning the basics.

Perhaps the city should create safe, separated bike space on underused roadways until the crisis passes - and make it permanent if it works.

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Voting closed 19

Yes - parkways should not be speedways!

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Voting closed 23

Stand on the surrounding Morton Street for 10 minutes on a sunny afternoon at the rotary which is the entrance to the Forest Hills Cemetery. It's like a freeway. Also, once you get passed the Shattuck, the sidewalk disappears as you start to walk toward American Legion/Canterbury. Crazy unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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Voting closed 13

Urban cemeteries such as Forest Hills and Mt. Auburn were designed to be places for the living as well as the dead. It's our failure to not recognize and respect the dual nature of these grounds.

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Voting closed 22

It is privately owned by the cemetery corporation, which is a non-profit. Mount Auburn is similar.

(It did, however, start out as a public cemetery for the then-separate town of Roxbury.)

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Voting closed 22

Otherwise it's just a long term rental.

Electric and gas companies are private corporations. But they remain essential to the public needs and are public resources. Therefore they are obligated to satisfy public needs. For that matter why even have cemetaries anymore when all bodies can be disposed of via

Garden cemeteries such as Forest Hills were developed in response to the fetid conditions of urban cemeteries. They were part of the original parks of American cities. Their purpose was not merely as a necropolis that houses the dead but as parks where the living can commune with the dead and can maintain the spiritual, emotional and physical strength of the living.

Today, given the immense density of human habitation, all park like areas are necessary for the health and benefit of the living. The dead don't care do they?

But to limit the uses of cemeteries that were designed to be places of contemplation, beauty and health for the living is to turn these places into cities of the dead where all that remains is a perverted worship of the dead. Our dead are our past and so are necessary for to maintain continuity, to carry the experience and wisdom of our ancestors. But to turn them into places where only the worship of the dead is allowed is to pervert the very purpose of providing a place where the dead and living can co-exist.

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Voting closed 18

so a soccer field is a bad use of land because we need hyperlocal food supply but now a cemetery should be treated just a like a public park without restrictions because 'all park like areas are necessary for the health and benefit of the living' Okay then. Also you really left us hanging on this sentence "For that matter why even have cemeteries anymore when all bodies can be disposed of via" Piranha tanks? Lava pits? Catapults? Oh wait, I know, organic farms.

It's almost like you being mad online and don't have consistent positions.

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Voting closed 26

The Arboretum isn't a public park either - it's owned by Harvard.

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Voting closed 5

But the City of Boston has a thousand-year lease with Harvard, under which the public has access to the property.

In 2882, Harvard can do what it wants. Until then, it's part of the city park system.

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Voting closed 2

The Arboretum (Harvard) gave the land to the city and then leased the land back for 1000 years. It's a part of the city park system forever--with the Arboretum maintaining the collections, the city maintaining the walls and the roads.

You're correct that part of the agreement is that it will be open to the public from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

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Voting closed 2

When I die, I want people to cycle to my grave.

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Voting closed 33

When I die, I want people to cycle to my grave.

That's a nice sentiment, but cyclists don't want to use the cemetery to visit their deceased loved ones. They're doing it purely for recreation.

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Voting closed 8

Ok, I also want people I don't know to be able to cycle past my grave.

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Voting closed 9

Last few times I was there I was struck by how many people were just barreling through there in their giant trucks and SUVs. I’d think biking and jogging would be less disruptive...

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Voting closed 11

Dog walkers, cyclists and joggers do not belong in cemeteries, which should be places of remembrance and mediation. Case closed.

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Voting closed 42

Most cemeteries, maybe, but Forest Hills and Mount Auburn were designed as places that combine attributes of both a final resting ground and a public park - back in the 19th century, so it's not like there's anything new about it.

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Voting closed 50

How about adding cars to the list. There are tons of people driving around the cemetery. A 2015 SUV shouldn’t be driving inches away from 200 year old graves. I’ve seen these lazy drivers honk at people who are walking in the cemetery. It’s ridiculous.

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Voting closed 24

Another example of the perversion of values where business degrees and monetary bottom lines become the fundamental guiding values.

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Voting closed 18

Moving cars usually have living people inside.

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Voting closed 2

You know people who cruise cemeteries in their cars?? How odd!

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Voting closed 12

Only the able bodied should be allowed to visit the graves of their loved ones. How dare they interrupt your walk!

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Voting closed 22

They have golf carts at the main entrance. They should provide more of them. There’s no reason why someone should be driving an F350 or a Harley through a cemetery.

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Voting closed 8

I've never heard anyone honk in the Forest Hills or Mt Auburn Cemetery on all my walks there.

And when I've had visiting family members with mobility issues, we really appreciated being able to go on a scenic drive through the cemetery.

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Voting closed 4

It’s nice to go somewhere where nothing moves faster than walking speed other than squirrels and chipmunks.
I don’t get the dog ban, though. The majority of dog owners clean up after them and respect leash rules. Just seeing a dog makes many people less stressed and isn’t that the point of getting out for some gentle exercise and fresh air?

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Voting closed 20

And the cemetery is tired of trying to police them?

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Voting closed 43

After your mutt shits on someone’s grave doesn’t change the fact they shit on someone’s grave.

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Voting closed 55

It's not a dog park. It's a cemetery.

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Voting closed 12

Perhaps people visiting their loved ones don't want dogs pooping on the graves? Even if you pick up the bulk of the material, unless you're down there running a microfiber cloth over each blade of grass, there's still some left behind.

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Voting closed 12

If you're that concerned about microscopic amounts of poop, don't get buried outside. There are geese, turkeys, squirrels, and who knows what other animals living in cemeteries. Mt Auburn is known for its birds and has organized birdwatching events.

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Voting closed 10

How rude to think that your dog's right to shit on a grave TRUMPS a family's right to NOT have a strangers' dog shit on their loved one's grave. Did you pay for the plot? Did you pay for the headstone? Are you paying for perpetual care?

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Voting closed 3

They see life as nasty, brutish and short. Dig, bury and get paid. They have no sense of community purpose, engagement or connection. A self-centered, moral blindness. Not unlike many of our politicians, religious leaders and corporate princes.

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Voting closed 15

Besides COVID related recent restrictions, cemeteries have changed their views about passive recreational activities over the last century. Here is an article from Chicago that talks about it:
https://www.wbez.org/stories/cycling-in-cemeteries-why-some-chicago-grav...

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Voting closed 8

Thanks for posting it!

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Voting closed 8

For most people to reach the park they have to drive a car. What is more offensive to the contemplation and quiet than a car. Especially if it's a boom boom car blasting music.

Being in a car is artificial separation from the many graves. A car is a dump truck where the grieving arrive in their various styles to pay their respects and then leave, with little to no recognition or consideration of the centuries of graves already present.

Get in and get out is the way of the car. Not unlike fast cheap sex.

Expecting people will walk to the cemetery is absurd. Some will; those living nearby or with the stamina to go on long walks. But this is extremely self-limiting.

At least folks with bike can arrive at the cemetery without the death contributing pollution of cars, are directly exposed to the graves and force a slower pace.

The current administrators of Forest Hills would turn the cemetery into a locked gated necropolis if they could get away with it.

Given that many of our gov't leaders - especially at the highest levels today - worship death, this just falls in line with the current zeitgeist of that leadership.

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Voting closed 15

In more usual times, plenty of people take the T to both Mount Auburn and Forest Hills. (I do not recommend it right now.)

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Voting closed 14

If I'm to be buried, then bury me with the dog walkers, cyclists, joggers, families with strollers, buskers, and anyone else who wants to be above me.

I'm dead. I don't care if your dog shits on the ground above me as long as you leave it better than the way you found it. If the graveyard is where people want to visit, then it'll be where I want my family to come remember me and see that I share my resting place with everyone.

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Voting closed 24

This makes a lot of sense to me. If you are going to see an increase in activity you need to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Bikes are too fast, dogs can be cumbersome and unsettling to others. While there is nothing wrong with bikes or dogs, I can see how too many of them when combined with lots of people on foot could be a recipe for disaster in a space that was supposed to be tranquil.

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Voting closed 2

No definitive plans yet, but you can read this letter from the cemetery's president and CEO. Effective immediately, visiting hours for families of those buried there are 4-7 pm. For the three-day Memorial Day weekend, those hours will be 1-7 pm.

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Voting closed 6

Here is the link to a petition I created to courage FHC to reopen to dog walkers, bikers, and joggers.

https://www.change.org/p/forest-hills-cemetery-please-allow-dogs-bikers-...

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Voting closed 11

From the cemetery's Covid-19 page:

Forest Hills Cemetery and Columbarium will be open to grave and niche owners for visitation Saturday, Sunday and Monday (May 23, 24, and 25) from 10am to 4pm.
...
Beginning May 26th, Forest Hills Cemetery and Columbarium will re-open to the public from 12pm to 4pm. Our new regulations which prohibit dog-walking, bicycling and jogging will take effect on May 26th as well.

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Voting closed 2