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No volunteer care for neglected cemeteries

A cemetery-adoption program intended to help the Town of Oyster Bay preserve its most neglected burial grounds has garnered no official volunteers since its May launch, the town historian said.

"There are no active, formal applications" from groups seeking to care for the some 25 abandoned cemeteries, John Hammond said Tuesday. "It's not something that has a very high priority in a lot of people's minds," he said. "Cemeteries are there, but people don't give them a second thought."

Without proper upkeep, cemeteries will be "lost" to the community, their stones broken or stolen, and their historical impact diminished, he said.

Historical societies and church groups have expressed only preliminary interest in the program, which does not have binding terms but encourages organizations to take long-term responsibility, Hammond said.

Town officials are investigating other potentially abandoned cemeteries, he said. The list of 25 includes:

The Townsend-Wortman Cemetery in Oyster Bay, where two Revolutionary War veterans are buried.

The Lyceum Cemetery in Plainedge, where a Civil War casualty is buried.

The Hewlett Cemetery in Woodbury, with a stone dating back to the 1700s.

Abandoned cemeteries fall under town jurisdiction. Adopting a cemetery can mean preserving its history, Hammond said.

"Most of the abandoned cemeteries relate back to families and individuals who have played significant roles in the development of the Town of Oyster Bay," he said. "Some are very overgrown, and they are looked upon as a blight. They don't have to be; they can be a place of beauty to a neighborhood, if properly attended to and cared for."Groups interested in cemetery adoption may contact 516-624-4971.

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