Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery threatened to close its gates last week after some visitors ignored the 478-acre-site’s rules and regulations. In an email to supporters, the cemetery’s president Richard Moylan said people have biked, climbed trees, and even taken flowers that were placed on graves, all actions prohibited by the organization. “The conduct of a small percentage of our visitors has created an unacceptable situation,” Moylan wrote. “If things don’t change we may be left with no choice but to close our gates as many other cemeteries have done.”
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It was very difficult for Green-Wood’s president, Richard J. Moylan, to send his latest email. But it was necessary. Please read: “The conduct of a small percentage of our visitors has created an unacceptable situation. If things don’t change, we may be left with no choice but to close our gates as many other cemeteries have done. “Four weeks ago today, we decided to staff all four of our gates until 7pm every day of the week. We knew how important that was. We all need open space, a connection to nature, and a place for serenity. Thousands of you have come to visit. We’ve been delighted to welcome you. “But some of our visitors have behaved very badly. They have brought their dogs. They’ve ridden bikes. Their kids have climbed trees. They’ve taken flowers that had been placed on graves. None of these actions is appropriate or permitted. “Green-Wood is a cemetery. It is an arboretum, and a place of tranquility. Families come to visit the graves of their loved ones. It is not a public park. It is a not a place of recreation. Our rules are clear on what is allowed and what is not. “With the nice weather predicted this weekend, we will surely again be seeing large crowds. We have a group of volunteers who will be assisting us as Green-Wood Ambassadors, making sure the cemetery rules are honored (DM us if you would like to join the group). We hope, together, we can keep Green-Wood open and available for everyone. Thank you.” #historicgreenwood #greenwoodcemetery 📸: @kiki_and_lolo
To make it easier for Brooklynites (and even the mayor) to get fresh air during the pandemic, Green-Wood in March extended its hours and opened its Fort Hamilton Parkway and Prospect Park West entrances, typically closed to the public during the week, seven days a week.
“We recognize the role Green-Wood plays in so many lives, not just as a place of remembrance, but one of solace in an ever-uncertain world,” Moylan wrote in a March update. “Therefore we are dedicated to stay open and accessible during this time so you may continue to find peace in our landscape—as generations before us have.”
But those who are breaking the cemetery’s rules–which forbid any form of exercise besides walking and recreational activities, including picnicking, playing, and sunbathing– are putting the accessibility of the open space at risk. “Green-Wood is a cemetery. It is an arboretum, and a place of tranquility,” Moylan said in the email on Friday. “Families come to visit the graves of their loved ones. It is not a public park. It is not a place of recreation. Our rules are clear on what is allowed and what is not.”
Over the weekend, Green-Wood sent out “ambassadors” to enforce the cemetery’s rules and asked for more volunteers to help patrol the site. A spokesperson for Green-Wood told Gothamist that 120 people volunteered to ensure regulations and social distancing measures are followed. Familiarize yourself with Green-Wood’s rules here, before visiting the cemetery, which is home to some of New York’s most notable residents, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Horace Greeley, Susan Smith McKinney-Steward, and more.
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