Newark must detail cleanup of cemetery
BY DAWN S. ONLEY
A Superior Court judge has given Newark until the end of
November to come up with a tentative plan for the cleanup and
restoration of City Cemetery, the old potter's field that
was turned into a dump.
Judge Kenneth Levy told the city to present a general idea by
Nov. 29 of how it plans to remediate the 5-acre graveyard that was
turned into an industrial storage yard in the 1960s.
The transformation was discovered by 86-year-old Elsie Spade
Lascurain after she went to the Bessemer Street site in search of
her father's grave two years ago and found it strewn with garbage
Lascurain sued the city, demanding the return of the remains of
her father, George Spade. She wanted to have him disinterred and
buried in the family plot near her home in Hackensack, alongside
her husband and infant daughter.
The elderly woman also sought a proper resting place for the
more than 18,000 other indigent people, including several veterans
of the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II who were
buried in the graveyard, later known as Floral Rest.
Her case for compensatory damages was thrown out by Superior
Court Judge Carol Ferentz, who ruled that too much time had passed
since Spade was buried in 1921 for her to make a case for
The city has begun work on the site, removing the piles of
garbage and leveling the mounds of dirt. Levy asked City Attorney
Hugh Gallagher to meet with Lascurain's attorney, David Freeman,
so they could work out an agreement.
Nancy Costello Miller, a deputy state attorney general and
counsel to the New Jersey Cemetery Board, is closely monitoring
the case and said she is helping the two sides reach an agreement.
The state office is functioning as a friend of the court to assist
in the resolution of the case.
"The (fine) details we're not going to be dictating, but
we'll be participating in discussions in regards to concept
designs," Miller said. "It's appropriate involving
issues of public importance. The attorney general has a strong
interest in participating in issues involving cemeteries."
The city previously has said it will turn City Cemetery, which
abuts the Anheuser-Busch brewery and lies in the shadow of Newark
International Airport, into a park- like memorial garden with
plaques and benches.
The city claims it has lost burial records and grave markers of