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Huntington limits memorials in parks to a tree and plaque

Huntington residents had complained about stone memorials in

Huntington residents had complained about stone memorials in places such as Heckscher Park. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The Huntington Town Board has further restricted the types of memorials that can be placed in town parks.

All new memorials must now be a living tree — purchased for $850 through the town, officials said.

Town officials first created a policy and process for the placement and types of memorials that can be installed in parks in October 2016. That effort limited them to benches or trees. The law was in response to residents’ concerns that stone monuments were creating a cemetery-like atmosphere in the town’s 150 parks and beaches — especially Heckscher Park.

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said after last Tuesday’s board meeting the policy wasn’t working because residents continued to complain about stone memorials being put in parks, most notably Heckscher and Crab Meadow Beach.

“The new resolution helps the town control aesthetics at our parks and beaches, as it sets standards, policies and procedures — and environmental benefits — for memorials,” Lupinacci said.

The $850 fee will cover the cost of the tree, an optional engraved bronze or aluminum plaque, shipping and handling, professional planting of the tree, and, if necessary, replacement within five years, town officials said. A $50 fee will be charged to cover the town’s administrative costs for handling the applications.

Town board members Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol voted against the measure.

Cergol said she objected to the town holding the fees in a trust in case the tree has to be replaced. “I don’t believe we should be holding the public’s money,” she said.

Cuthbertson, who led the way for the original policy, said the new policy is cost-prohibitive for some people.

“I don’t think we should be imposing a fee of $850, it becomes ‘can you afford it, can you not afford it,’ ” he said.

One such memorial, a stone and Japanese maple in memory of Austin Verville, sits on a corner across from the playground in Hecksher Park. Austin, nearly 4 years old, died in 2008. His parents said they thought the memorial beautified the park and promoted reflection.

“The $850 seems a little high . . . maybe there should be a tiered system,” Austin’s mother, Christine Verville said. “I felt so strongly and needed to do something, donate something, so we did. Other families should also have the opportunity.”

Residents wishing to put a memorial in a town park must still fill out an application, which will be reviewed by a committee.

The applicant can still also request a preferred location. Town officials said they will work to accommodate the request, but cannot guarantee the location.

The process to add a memorial at a Huntington town park

  • Those seeking permission to place a memorial in a town park, beach or other public place must file an application with the Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • Memorials will be considered only for those who lived in the town for a portion of their lives.
  • The application will be reviewed by the Huntington Memorial Review Committee.
  • A fee of $850 is required.

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