Roseanne Benjamin lost her father on Feb. 18, 2008 after a long struggle with colon cancer. Her father Dave was a long-time Westfield resident, and there was no question in Roseanne's mind that when he passed, he would be buried in Fairview Cemetery.
For the past four years, Benjamin, who now lives in Cranford, would stop by her father's grave to tell him about how his granddaughter was getting married, or how his grandson got into college.
But on the fourth anniversary of his death, Benjamin won't be able to place a bouquet of flowers on his grave. She won't even be allowed in the cemetery.
"I understand what a tragedy it is that Whitney Houston died, she was the voice of a generation," she said on the phone. "But just because she is getting buried doesn't mean that I shouldn't be allowed to see my father's grave."
Fairview Cemetery has been closed to the public as the grounds are prepped for Houston's burial. But closing the facility has caused a stir among residents who have family members in the cemetery who are barred from visiting them.
"My father's grave is no where near where Whitney will be buried. I have no interest to see where she will be buried, I just want to say hi to my father," Benjamin said.
There is no set time for Houston's burial besides "late morning," meaning Benjamin, and others like Jaimie Lewinski, do not have a set time when they will be allowed back.
Lewinski's sister is buried in the cemetery, and she said she checked with the groundskeeper if the facility will be closed. They told her no.
But when she showed up Saturday morning, she was told a different story.
"I told the police at the entrance that I was there to see my sister, and they turned me away immediately. I think they thought I was lying."
The cemetery is closed to the public until further notice. Police have indicated the entire length of Gallows Hill Road would be closed to northbound traffic starting at 6 a.m. Sunday to be used as a media staging area.
Minor road closures are expected but no direct effect on downtown should be seen.