Volunteer describes efforts to maintain abandoned New Jersey cemetery

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ByToni Yates via WABC logo
Monday, November 21, 2022 11:16PM
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A cemetery in Monmouth County is one of several graveyards in New Jersey that are now considered abandoned. Toni Yates has the story.

HAZLET, New Jersey (WABC) -- Cedarwood Cemetery is one of several graveyards in New Jersey that are now considered abandoned, and a local volunteer has made it his job to maintain it.

Dave Kite showed Eyewitness News reporter Toni Yates where his family is buried in the Cedarwood Cemetery.

Years ago, the trustees used to pay Kite to maintain the cemetery.

For the past several years, he has taken it upon himself along with volunteers.

"I can't tell you how many hours I put because I'm over here. Nights and weekends," Kite said.

A recent New Jersey Advanced Media article outlined a trail of bureaucratic red tape that cost the cemetery a modest endowment.

Cedarwood faced fines over a crumbling wall and the board of trustees eventually dissolved. Eyewitness News was told the cemetery looks like a wasteland most times.

Neighbor Roy Halvorsen often helps Kite with the maintenance.

"I'll go up there with the push mower and cut around some of the gravestones and cut the grass in the summertime ," Halvorsen said."The grass was three and a half, four foot high, you had holes from where the foxes were digging."

They have no steady income because there are no more plots to sell and interest in maintaining them tends to fade.

The Organization Preservation New Jersey now classifies cemeteries as one of the state's top 10 most endangered historic places.

Kite showed Eyewitness News a gravestone of a soldier from the Battle of Monmouth.

"1811, that's about the oldest one in here," Kite said.

On the website, Preservation New Jersey is asking that state laws be changed to help fund and save these graveyards that hold the history of the state not to allow them to fall into ruin.

"It's a shame really, you know a lot of these people are World War one or two veterans. Some go back to the Revolutionary War," Halvorsen said.

Until or unless changes are made, these graveyards are left to volunteer guardians like Kite and Halvorsen.

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