Volunteers from North Hempstead, including Mineola, came out on a recent Saturday to clean up the historic Townsend Cemetery in East Hills.
Among them were John DeSetto of Mineola, who worked together with Councilman Peter Zuckerman, D-East Hills.
The cemetery is a private burial ground, located on what was formerly the Willis Family farm. A total of 34 people were buried there from 1790 to 1894, including several of the first families who settled on Long Island. The cemetery and its access road off of Northern Boulevard, have been abandoned since the early 1900’s.
The cleanup was part of the nearly three dozen events that were held town wide around Earth Day. Volunteers were provided with Town of North Hempstead “Slow the Flow-Save H20” t-shirts for participating.
“The Town is committed to the long-term preservation and restoration of the historic Townsend Cemetery,” Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “We have already accomplished so much through the dedication of volunteers and our Town Historian Howard Kroplick and I sincerely thank everyone who participated.”
Led by Kroplick, volunteers removed 15 bags of trash from the site, sprayed tree debris for poison ivy and cleared away under growth from many of the remaining headstones. In addition, a professional tree and landscaping service will follow up by removing the heavier tree debris from the site.
The Town of North Hempstead recently received a $40,000 FEMA grant to assist with the clean-up and restoration of the cemetery. Future development plans for the site include possibly installing a gated fence around the burial ground, placing a historic marker at the entrance and general maintenance of the cemetery.“The community really came out with enthusiasm for this clean-up project,” said Councilman Zuckerman. “It’s nice to know that people care about the restoration of historically significant places like the Townsend Cemetery.”