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Families complain of equipment stored at Uniondale cemetery

Relatives are upset that the town gave permission

Relatives are upset that the town gave permission to a construction company to store equipment in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Nearly one year after the Hempstead Town Board revoked a resolution allowing a Plainview company to store construction equipment at a town-owned cemetery, the equipment is still there, and relatives of the deceased aren’t happy.

“It’s disrespectful to the dead,” said Cynthia Paul, whose parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle are buried at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale, where the headstones of town residents stand near construction trucks, dumpsters and portable toilets.

“It looks absolutely disgusting,” said Paul, of upstate Saratoga Springs.

The staging area is the result of an August 2017 access agreement between the town and Haugland Energy Group LLC that the town board approved in a unanimous vote that month.

The company is replacing old electrical poles and wires in the area on behalf of PSEG, officials said.

The PSEG contractor is paying the town $5,000 a month to store equipment at the cemetery until August 2019, per the agreement, which refers to the site as “an open parking lot” and does not mention the cemetery.

Haugland did not respond to requests for comment.

"We are working with Haugland to find a resolution for the situation at the staging area," PSEG spokesman Jeremy Walsh said Tuesday.

The town board rescinded the August 2017 resolution in a 6-0 vote at its next meeting, with Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney abstaining.

"The original contract allowing Haugland’s use of Greenfield Cemetery was negotiated by the former administration," town board counsel Richard Regina said. 

"As concerns were raised by residents about the cemetery’s use, the town board immediately passed another resolution to rescind the original contract," he said.

But the second vote did not nullify the agreement, Hempstead spokesman Mike Fricchione said.

“You can’t rescind a contract with an outside party just through another town board resolution,” he said.

The town is currently looking for an alternate location for the company’s equipment, but the space required and the shortage of open space nearby has slowed that effort, Fricchione said.

Haugland officials “are being cooperative and are open to relocating as soon as a new, suitable site is arranged,” he said.

Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said: "I'm hopeful that my administration will be able to find an alternative location, and the rest of the town board will approve that this is the right move." 

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