DANSVILLE--After months of careful deliberation, the North Dansville Town Board recently adopted new rules for Greenmount Cemetery in hopes that those who place mementos on loved-ones graves will do so conservatively.
The current condition of some relatively-newer gravesites has drawn the ire of some families of loved ones interred there, as well as others who have pre-purchased plots for themselves and demand that neighboring plots be cleaned up or else they will move their plots elsewhere and demand their money back.
Rules that have already been in place state that any flowers or decorations must be no more than 18 inches from the headstone. Many relatively newer plots have momentos that exceed that boundary--including benches, tables, chairs, decorative flags and lawn ornaments--and not only makes it unsightly to some, but makes it difficult for town employees to mow around.
North Dansville Town Supervisor Dennis Mahus said that some items are deliberately not mowed around because the town does not want to be responsible if something should be tipped and broken.
“Travel around and look at other cemeteries and you won’t see any of this,” sexton David Luce said, adding that some cemeteries do not allow any momentos, including flowers, nor do they have above-ground headstones for the sake of maintenance.
The new rules have been about a year in the making. Town board members, as well as Luce, have been trying to be respectful in developing the new rules, understanding that regulating the expression of mourners wishing to pay respects to loved ones is a delicate situation.
“Each one of these lots is a sacred ground to that family. And I wanted it to be just that,” Luce said about why he hadn’t taken this approach earlier, when the problem was minimal. “And I expected people to have common courtesy so their neighbors are not looking at all this stuff.”
Greenmount Cemetery was established in 1847. There are about 500 unused lots left, which means the cemetery could be full within an estimated 15-20 years.
In spite of the current situation, Luce said that he gets many positive comments on the looks of the grounds, with people often referring to it as like a park.
Copies of the new rules and regulations can be obtained in the N. Dansville Town Clerk’s office or on its website: https://www.northdansville.org/cemetery