Well, it’s not exactly paradise, but it is a place that deserves a lot more respect than it’s been getting.
I’m talking about Robb Cemetery, an 8700-square foot parcel of land on East Main Street in the village of Webster, spitting distance from Phillips Road. It is a true pioneer burial ground, with at least eight known burial sites dating back to 1823. (The map below shows a ground-penetrating radar study of the property completed in 2011. All of the red rectangles are suspected burial sites.)
You’ve probably driven by it countless times without realizing what it is, because there are no signs on the property indicating its historical significance. Plus, it looks like it could simply be someone’s back yard, especially since the homeowners on the property’s eastern edge decided to pave over part of it and put in a parking lot.
The Village’s Historical Preservation Commission is trying to do something about both of those things.
I’ve been somewhat familiar with the Robb Cemetery, and the controversy surrounding its ownership, for a long time. But I was finally brought up to speed when I attended a recent meeting of the Village’s Historic Preservation Commission. Reclaiming Robb Cemetery and giving it the recognition it deserves has been one of the commission’s primary goals for a long time now. It’s a three-fold process: 1) getting the property officially transferred to the village, 2) erecting proper signage, 3) and getting that obnoxious parking lot removed.
What really irks me about this whole issue is that the parking lot shouldn’t even be there. The neighbors do not own that land, and were denied permission TWICE by the village to pave any part of it. But they went ahead and did it anyway.
Yes, you read that right. The village told them no, and they went ahead anyway.
You would expect that our village leaders would want to do something about that. These folks basically thumbed their nose at the Board and paved over an important piece of Webster history. Chances are very good there’s even a burial site under the pavement itself. (See the map.)
The previous administration was, in fact, taking steps to get the paved area removed. Mayor Cahill, however, does not seem to be of the same mind, stating that “I’m not going to put pressure on the current owners to remove something that has been there for years.” That is unfortunate.
There is good news, however. Gov. Cuomo has just signed a bill which officially deeds that property to the Village of Webster. That was a big step. Now it’s up to the Village Board to keep the ball rolling, get the pavement removed, and give those buried at Robb Cemetery the respect they deserve.
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