Lysander claims cemetery

Lysander has assumed control of the Old Presbyterian Cemetery, a property whose treatment has been in question for the past year.

Last summer, officials looked into allegations of vandalism at the cemetery located at the intersection of Church and Plainville roads in Lysander. According to the 1932 Lesley E. Voorhees record, the Old Presbyterian Cemetery was active from 1820 to 1859 and 52 individuals were buried there. The site is currently home to 12 headstones, of which eight are standing and four are lying on the ground. There are also headstones 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.

At the Monday May 24 town board meeting, Burtch addressed the board after officials approved a resolution stating the cemetery is owned by the town and has been for many years. He said the town had no rights to the cemetery. He added that the town falsely accused him of desecrating the cemetery in a Post Standard article that ran last year.

"I'm not accusing you of moving stones," Bullis said, then asked Burtch what he wanted from the board.

"I want to cut the grass [in the cemetery]," Burtch said.

"You're not going to be able to do that," Bullis said, then he asked Burtch to take a seat.

When Burtch refused to sit down and let the meeting continue, Bullis asked the town clerk to call for back up. Burtch continued to talk, then the board took action and approved installation of a five-foot tall, 322-foot long chain link fence surrounding the east and north sides of the cemetery.

Burtch said he would take out a restraining order to prevent the town from building the fence, which would include an area where Burtch's septic and water drainage lines lie. While Burtch claims the septic system and leach field were installed before he purchased the property six years ago, moving them would cause a financial hardship.

"I'll see you in court," he told the board.

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