Lysander: A question of maiming or maintaining

Fences make good neighbors.

That is what Lysander officials hope to accomplish as the town board recently ordered a survey of an abandoned cemetery on Plainville Road. The Old Presbyterian Cemetery, which the town is mandated by state law to maintain, is currently home to 12 head stones, of which eight are standing and four lying on the ground. That doesn't include the head stones lying in the brush south of the site, which were placed there by Fred Burtch Jr., owner of the residence just north of (and next door to) the cemetery.

Supervisor Barry Bullis said there are allegations that head stones were put in the woods, trees were removed and a septic system was installed on the property. He added that a visual inventory of the property was conducted in 1992, at which point 24 stones were standing and, according to historical records, 52 individuals are buried in the cemetery.

Burtch admitted that there was a septic system and leach field on cemetery property behind his house, but it was installed before he purchased the property five years ago.

Burtch said he believed the trouble with the town began last September when he asked the town clerk if he could purchase the plot, which was not used for burials, so he could remedy the problem. He added that previous owners had used the same property to house a powered gazebo, doghouse and abandoned car, among other items, and the town never said anything about it. After acquiring the property, Burtch removed the pavilion and doghouse because he didn't feel it was right to use property that wasn't his.

He also claims he has removed metal and garbage from behind the property, in addition to clearing out brush and mowing the lawn, which has created a beautiful view that spans into Cayuga County.

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