Repair work will begin Monday on the Long Island National Cemetery's perimeter fence, a face-lift that the director of the 364-acre Pinelawn cemetery said will be "phenomenal."
The black, spear point-topped iron fencing along the cemetery's exterior on Wellwood Avenue was installed in 1937 at the opening of the cemetery. However, years of harsh weather and automobile accidents have rusted parts of the fence and ripped down other sections. Repairs are scheduled to be finished in April 2019.
"I can't wait until this is done because it's going to be phenomenal, which is deserving of all our veterans, nation's heroes, and their families," said Srey Austin, the cemetery's director.
Austin, who became director nine months ago, said she has seen three car accidents during her tenure.
Cemetery officials will restore the iron fence to its original luster, Austin said.
"The ones [sections] that we can save and salvage, we will send out for refurbishing," she said. "The ones we can't, we're getting a replica."
Austin said workers will also widen the space between the fence line and the curb along Wellwood Avenue, in part to allow for a new sidewalk.
"But also, that way, if a car gets into another accident, there's a little wiggle room," she said.
Construction will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until the project is complete. Wellwood will remain open during construction.
The fence work is part of a larger $9.2 million repair plan that Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) announced in February. The project includes a new limestone-faced columbarium with 6,240 marble-covered niches. Other slated repairs include new chain-link fences and new aluminum-post fencing.
About 350,000 veterans and family members are buried at the cemetery.
Suozzi, who helped secure the funding, said in February that the cemetery fence's condition doesn't "represent how much we value our veterans.”
The columbarium work started about four weeks ago, Austin said, and the chain-link repair work began three weeks ago.