A community clean-up for the historic Townsend Cemetery in East Hills is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.
The cemetery is the final resting place for some of Long Island's first settlers. Besides the Willis and Townsend families, other families buried there include the Horsfields, Jacksons and Boerems, according to North Hempstead Historian Howard Kroplick. A total of 34 people were buried there from 1790 to 1894.
The cemetery contains nine known headstones and two footstones, which are currently visible. It is now being used as a drop off for landscaping debris, according to the Town of North Hempstead.
North Hempstead recently received a $40,000 FEMA grant to assist with the clean-up and restoration of the cemetery, a private burying ground, on what was formerly the Willis Family farm.
The cemetery and its access road off of Northern Boulevard have been abandoned since the early 1900s.
The cemetery sits on two townships. The burying ground is in the Town of North Hempstead and access to the cemetery is in the Town of Oyster Bay.
When the area was annexed by East Hills in 1961, the land was cleaned and fenced off by the village. However, the property has not been maintained for more than 50 years due to its unknown ownership. In recent years, access to the cemetery has been blocked from its North Hempstead Turnpike entrance by overgrown brush trees. According to New York State law, both towns are responsible for the care and maintenance of the abandoned cemetery.
In April 2014, a walking path was created by Kroplick.
Volunteers wishing to take part in the cleanup should meet at the Northern Boulevard entrance. Cars should park on Cotillion Court, approximately one-half mile east of Glen Cove Road.