TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - The man with the rake takes careful strokes over the sandy earth beneath his feet.
Several times a month, Spero Moutsatsos comes to the Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs to visit his parents final resting place and tidy up around the plot. He says it provides him a sense of peace.
"It does give me comfort to know that my family, my mother and father who are buried here, that the cemetery plot is protected," said Moutsatsos.
But not as protected as it's going to be. It was long the dream of former city commissioner and long time cemetery board member F. Kettrell Powell, who's also buried at Cycadia, to fence the property in.
"This project has been years in the making. It's been a long-standing interest within the community to do something to better protect the cemetery during closed hours," explained Tarpon Springs public services director Paul Smith.
Currently, a small knee wall is all that keeps people out. It's used as a cut through by people on foot. Perhaps more disturbing, there have been cases of vandalism. Grave markers have been broken or knocked over; most have been repaired.
Vandals also target the small crosses on top of candle lanterns that are present at many of the grave sites. Even the large concrete sphere that used to be on the gravestone of one of the cemeteries early benefactors has been vandalized.
"We have had isolated incidents of vandalism in the past. And this is something that we take very seriously and whatever we can do to prevent it in the future, this project will go a long way towards that," said Smith.
Early next year, a six-foot wrought-iron fence will be put up that surrounds the entire cemetery; giving families the comfort of knowing their loved ones are truly resting in peace.
"I'm very pleased that the city council is doing that. It is important to me and to my family that have relatives buried here, and that to preserve it as we know it to be," said Moutsatsos.
The city and the staff at Cycadia Cemetery work tirelessly to ensure a clean and well-manicured property that the citizens of tarpon Springs can be proud of.
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