STOCKHOLM — Associations that oversee private cemeteries could be eligible for financial assistance from the state for the repair of monuments or markers in the cemetery.
That’s the process that the Union Cemetery Association is going through for the cemetery it oversees on East Part Road in the town of Stockholm.
Bruce Winters, the association’s secretary, said funding may be available from the New York Department of State Division of Cemeteries. There’s a process that must be followed to be considered for funding.
He said they’ve identified 97 stones that need some sort of repair at Union Cemetery. He said the process begins with the identification of the stones, and then they must run a legal advertisement for three consecutive weeks, identifying the location in the cemetery and name on the stone.
“The Department of State Division of Cemeteries actually gives us the wording for this,” Mr. Winters said.
The legal advertisement indicates that the burial lot(s) “are so badly out of repair or dilapidated as to create a dangerous condition.” The owner or owners or anyone having an interest in the lot has 60 days from publication of the final legal notice to repair or remove the stone.
“You have to wait for 60 days after the last run for the family members to have time to get to you. Then and only then do you have the opportunity to start working on the stones,” Mr. Winters said. “The family is responsible for fixing the stones, but some of these stones are hundreds of years old, so you can’t find family members anymore.”
If it’s not repaired or removed by the family, the Union Cemetery Association may remove or repair it.
According to the Division of Cemeteries, the application for funding must include a description of the damaged monuments or markers, including photographs, and a statement that the monuments or markers are so badly out of repair or dilapidated as to create a dangerous condition. A copy of bids by at least two contractors listing the cost of repairs, or removal and replacement, must also be submitted.
Also part of the submission package is a notarized statement signed by the cemetery corporation officer that the cemetery corporation has not been able to obtain sufficient funds from the family of the deceased, and that the proposed costs of the repairs or removals and replacements “are fair and reasonable.”
A representative from the Division of Cemeteries will then visit the cemetery to examine the stones that were submitted as part of the application. Mr. Winters said they’ve tied an orange ribbon around the stones that were submitted for consideration.
“Those stones are the ones that we’ve identified as loose on the foundation and a hazard. It’s a large number of stones. It’s a pretty good percentage of stones in our cemetery,” he said. “They may say all these stones meet their guidelines as being really hazardous. Or, even though we’ve got them on that list, they might say, ‘We’re not going to give you any money for these.’”
After identifying the stones that will be repaired and the cost, the association is required to report the status of the work quarterly to the Division of Cemeteries.
“A final inspection of repaired monuments is done by the Division of Cemeteries inspector before approval is given to release the balance of funding,” Mr. Winters said
This is the second time the Union Cemetery Association has applied for funding to repair stones. They identified about 30 stones the first time, about three years ago.
“We didn’t identify all the stones that could have been repaired,” he said.
But, once they saw what the Division of Cemeteries inspector was looking for, they were able to identify more this time around.
“We haven’t missed any obvious ones,” he said.
Anyone with questions about the Union Cemetery stones can contact Mr. Winters at P.O. Box 328, South Colton, NY 13687, call 315-261-4357, or email email@example.com.
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