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Cemetery Visitors Annoyed By PSEG Equipment Stored Near Final Resting Places Of Loved Ones

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Mourners at a Long Island cemetery say their peace and quiet is being disturbed by construction equipment stored next to loved ones' graves.

How is that allowed?

CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff found out on Wednesday.

Sorrow is mixed with outrage at Greenfield Cemetery, which is run by the Town of Hempstead. That's because the final resting places for loved ones have become a temporary resting place for utility equipment.

"Allowing construction equipment in the middle of this cemetery, where we have our loved ones being buried ... noise, trucks, a big fence put up all of a sudden? I think it's sacrilegious. It's disrespectful," cemetery visitor Earl Simmons said.

Greenfield Cemetery
A lot of people are upset that the Town of Hempstead has a deal with PSEG that allows the utility to store its equipment at Greenfield Cemetery. (Photo: CBS2)

Trucks, utility poles and giant spools of electrical wire are all staged steps from where Nerys Mendez's beloved nephew, who was tragically lost at age 22, was interred.

"They should get a better place. We don't want anything like that around," Mendez said.

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So why here?

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, new to the job in January, said the 2017 contract with a PSEG subcontractor allows for the land to be used as a staging area for two years, in exchange for paying the town $5,000 per month. But nothing in the contract mentioned the cemetery, CBS2's Gusoff reported.

It passed the town board unanimously, with just a street address and the land listed as a parking lot.

"This is not a parking lot," Simmons said.

"It's right next to where we are burying people," Gillen added.

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Gillen said the contract is illegal because town code only allows grave digging and maintenance equipment in the cemetery.

"It's just an example of another bad contract, just pushing something through without any concern for the residents. That's the hallmark of the prior administration," Gillen said.

The town is now working with PSEG to find an alternate location for the equipment, even though there's another year left on the contract.

The town said it has already had the contractor relocate trucks and reduce the hours they're permitted to come and go. They hope to find an alternate site within weeks, so that the departed can rest in peace.

A spokesperson for PSEG said the equipment is part of a $700 million FEMA grant to upgrade storm hardiness.

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