New York City has agreed to provide ferry service one weekend a month to allow family members to visit loved ones buried in paupers' graves on Hart Island, according to a settlement of a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit in December on behalf of the mother and sister of a stillborn baby buried in the so-called potter's field in 1995, said the city agreed to begin visitations July 19, allow visitors to leave mementos at gravesites and continue to maintain a database of graves on the island.
"For 20 years, my mother and I have waited to visit the grave of my baby sister," plaintiff Maria Cruz Garcia said in a statement. "It will be very difficult, but finally being able to visit her grave will allow us to mourn the sister and daughter we never got to know."
An estimated 1 million people are buried on Hart Island, at the western end of Long Island Sound near City Island. Until the lawsuit, the city did not permit Hart Island gravesite visits.