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The state of the town of Johnstown cemeteries

During the 2021, budget process, I requested for a second time to place monies in the budget for cemetery restoration. Approximately 2.5-years, I raised this discussion to the board and it has been ignored — until now. Uniquely, the board jumped on the action of restoration but what was to be restored? 13-14 cemeteries are under town control and maintenance, but nothing is identify for our public to acknowledge on our web pages, monuments, or litterateur that may interest individuals and families.

In August (2020), a controversial discussion took place between the supervisor and myself in reference to an engineering firm that has direct experience in such restoration which most likely involves the State Historic Preservation Office and the New York State Division of Cemeteries, while making claims that it would cost $100,000 when no such information supports such a claim.

It was apparent, that doing the proper historical background checks and identifications was not a concern and that resetting stones was the priority. Though, I did have a conversation with the engineering firm, it seemed best to clean the cemeteries so there were good visuals that would help in future planning. Multiple negative comparisons for services were made against the engineering firm that the board never spoke with, but felt best to hire a separate individual that the supervisor knew. The supervisor claimed that he didn’t want to do business with an engineering firm (that is specialized in cemeteries) and that the engineer would request “frost foundations,” In direct response, I informed the supervisor that he was “making this up.”

None-the-less, a pilot for resetting select tombstones was voted on (four to one). I opposed the expedited actions by the supervisor for failing to understand good protocol and questioned why he was so ambitious after multiple years members stood on this board neglecting the historical cemeteries.

These cemeteries should be highlighted with their history. Proper research will aid this restoration and will be needed at some point-in-time. I’m not in favor in writing miniature contracts to favor friends, when proper planning and competitive bidding is the form of business we should be invested in. At the end of all this criticism, I hope the cemeteries will be resorted and our public will be able to take advantage in visiting these sites. I encourage all our neighboring comminutes to assist in their own cemetery restoration.

TIMOTHY RIZZO

Councilman

Johnstown

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