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Clean-Up Yields 15 Bags of Trash at Historic Townsend Cemetery

May 8, 2014
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Clean-Up Yields 15 Bags of Trash at Historic Townsend Cemetery
More than 20 volunteers clear brush and debris from site

East Hills, NY –Supervisor Judi Bosworth and North Hempstead Councilman Peter Zuckerman commended the more than 25 volunteers who came out on May 3 to clean up the historic Townsend Cemetery in East Hills. The cemetery is a private burial ground, located on what was formerly the Willis Family farm. A total of 34 people were buried there from 1790 to 1894, including several of the first families who settled on Long Island. The cemetery and its access road off of Northern Boulevard, have been abandoned since the early 1900’s.

The clean-up was part of the nearly three dozen events that were held town wide last weekend as the culmination of Earth Day. Volunteers were provided with Town of North Hempstead “Slow the Flow-Save H20” t-shirts for participating.

“The Town is committed to the long-term preservation and restoration of the historic Townsend Cemetery,” Supervisor Bosworth said. “We have already accomplished so much through the dedication of volunteers and our Town Historian Howard Kroplick and I sincerely thank everyone who participated.”

Led by Kroplick, volunteers removed 15 bags of trash from the site, sprayed tree debris for poison ivy and cleared away under growth from many of the remaining headstones. In addition, a professional tree and landscaping service will follow up by removing the heavier tree debris from the site.

The Town of North Hempstead recently received a $40,000 FEMA grant to assist with the clean-up and restoration of the cemetery. Future development plans for the site include possibly installing a gated fence around the burial ground, placing a historic marker at the entrance and general maintenance of the cemetery.

“The community really came out with enthusiasm for this clean-up project,” said Councilman Zuckerman. “It’s nice to know that people care about the restoration of historically significant places like the Townsend Cemetery.”

History of Townsend Cemetery
The Townsend Cemetery is located in the Village of East Hills, and straddles two townships. The burying ground is in the Town of North Hempstead and access to the cemetery lies in the Town of Oyster Bay. When the area was annexed by East Hills in 1961, the land was cleaned and fenced off by the village. However, the property has not been maintained for over 50 years due to its unknown ownership. In recent years, access to the cemetery has been blocked from its North Hempstead Turnpike entrance by overgrown brush trees. According to New York State law, both Towns are responsible for the care and maintenance of the abandoned cemetery. In April 2014, a walking path was created by the Kroplicks.

According to Kroplick, the cemetery contains nine known headstones and two footstones, which are currently visible. Besides the Willis and Townsend families, other families buried there include the Horsfields, Jacksons and Boerems. It is currently being used as a drop off for landscaping debris.

Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Deborah Beamon, George Beamon and Councilman Peter Zuckerman.

More than 25 volunteers came out for the clean-up of the Townsend cemetery, resulting in 15 bags of trash being carried out from the historic site.

Volunteers Alexis Gaeti, Greg Oreiro and John Gaeti cleared away the brush and debris from many of the remaining headstones.

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