New cemetery rules in Southampton would ban Frisbees, rubbings, Halloween walks

Gravestones at the North Sea Burial Ground on Gravestones at the North Sea Burial Ground on Millstone Brook Road in Southampton. (July 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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There soon will be no Frisbee -- or grave rubbing -- allowed in the cemeteries of Southampton.

The town expects to clean up the designation for its cemeteries and historic burial grounds, which currently lists final resting places in the same town code as parks, recreation space and ballfields.

The new proposed language, introduced Tuesday and to be considered at an upcoming town board meeting, specifically prohibits football, soccer, baseball, kickball, Frisbee and softball. It also prohibits gravestone rubbings and Halloween walks on the town's 10 historic burial grounds.

Town historian Zach Studenroth said there's no issue in the burial places with people playing. But the cemeteries had been included in that part of the village's code section "basically to keep the grass mowed."

As for headstone rubbings, he said many students now run around with cameras and there are other ways of remembering the history in cemeteries.

"I look at these sites as outdoor museums," he said. "These are carved stone artifacts, some of which have been out here for two or three centuries and have been exposed to the elements." Any human contact can damage them, he said.

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The legislation would create a new section in Southampton's code for town-owned historic burial grounds and abandoned cemeteries. It also would prohibit anyone from being there between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said this is part of "momentum that's been happening for a few years now to really protect our historic resources."

Town Clerk Sundy A. Schermeyer also announced that the historic division will hold two workshops for local residents on the preservation, restoration and care of headstones, to be led by monuments conservator Jonathan Appell, based in West Hartford, Conn. The workshops, on July 19 and 20, are free. Residents are asked to RSVP at 631-287-5740.

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Schermeyer, whose office oversees historic preservation, said many residents are unaware of best practices of headstone care.

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