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Huntington Town creates policy on memorials in parks

The Huntington Town Board has approved creating policies for placing memorial benches and trees in public places.

The board had been considering a process for placement of memorials since 2014 in response to residents’ concerns that the saturation of stone monuments and other tributes was creating a somber, cemetery-like atmosphere in the town’s 150 parks and beaches — especially Heckscher Park.

“Historically, people who were seeking to have a memorial established in honor of a loved one would go to different departments: the town board, general services, the parks department, the planning department,” said Don McKay, the town’s director of parks and recreation. “There was no coordinated system or policy in place, so this new policy will establish a formal procedure.”

At Heckscher Park, the stone memorial tributes range from a simple stone with a name and epitaph — “Happy memories in this park” — to more elaborate setups featuring a large engraved stone, flower garden and mini flags. There’s also an engraved 10-foot-long flat stone that can be used as a bench.

The town board approved the measure 5-0 at its meeting last Tuesday. Town board member Mark Cuthbertson, sponsor of the resolution creating the policy, said it establishes a coordinated process and allows the town to regulate the types of memorials and locations.

“The intent of this policy is to streamline the process,” he said.

McKay said under the new procedure, anyone wanting to create a memorial will get an application from the parks department, either online or by stopping by the office in Town Hall, and state what they are seeking to donate and a preferred location.

A committee made up of staff from parks, planning, the town attorney’s office and general services will review the application and decide in which facility the memorial will be placed.

The types of memorials are limited to trees or a bench, either of which can have a small plaque inscribed with a name. The town will install the memorial, but the plaque and tree or bench must be provided by the person requesting it.

“We can’t guarantee a certain park, but we’ll do our best to accommodate requests,” McKay said. “The person has to have some type of link to Huntington; we’re trying to keep it to people who have a link or residency in Huntington.”

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