Northwest Side cemetery under new ownership

By Ameet Sachdev
Posted today at 1:56 p.m.

A prominent Jewish cemetery on the Northwest Side of Chicago has changed hands after the previous owner could no longer operate and maintain the 50-acre property, according to the new owner.

Waldheim Cemetery Co. said Wednesday that it has acquired Rosemont Park Cemetery, 3600 N. Narragansett Ave., and renamed it Zion Gardens. The sale has been approved by the Illinois comptroller’s office, which licenses cemeteries that maintain trusts for consumers who buy grave plots and maintenance services.

Waldheim owns a Jewish cemetery in Forest Park.

Irwin Lapping, Waldheim’s vice president, said Rosemont’s owner ran out of money to continue the cemetery’s operations. He said that owner used up funds held in trust to operate the cemetery. Illinois law requires that 15 percent of the revenue from grave sales be placed in trust, Lapping said.

So all grave care contracts between individuals and Rosemont cannot be fulfilled because the funds were depleted, Lapping said. Grave owners will have to make new arrangements with Zion Gardens’ management for grave maintenance, Lapping said.

An attorney for the Rosemont owner could not be immediately reached for comment.

“Our strong management skills along with an understanding of how to create and properly administer trust funds will allow us to guide Zion Gardens to solvency,” Lapping said.

He said all previous land contracts and deeds would be honored.

Illinois Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka said in a statement that she looks forward to working with Waldheim to ensure the continued responsible management of cemetery services.

A spokesman for comptroller’s office said he could not immediately comment on Rosemont’s financial condition.

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