In a story reported by Lisa Colangelo of the Daily News, All Faiths Cemetery was slapped with standing water violations by a NYC Department of Health (DOH) inspector. The inspector visited the cemetery two days before Mother’s Day, the busiest time for the sprawling 225-acre property. All Faiths President Dan Austin said, “This is an attack on motherhood!”
The Daily News article states that the city forbids cemetery visitors from placing water with flowers at grave sites between the months of May and October. It’s part of a larger city-wide effort to wipe out mosquito breeding grounds and prevent cases of West Nile virus.
Austin said the cemetery has posted notices explaining the policy and even turned water off during those months but said it’s virtually impossible to stop people from bringing in flowers and water. It also rained two days leading up to the May 10th inspection. Strangely there is enough standing water to form a small pond on the property of New York & Atlantic Railroad and CSX Railroad that runs through the cemetery. Yet the inspector gave the railroads a pass and smacked the cemetery with a hefty fine for water in vases.
“All Faiths Cemetery received violations for standing water in vases and flower pots that contained decaying organic material and mosquito larvae,” the Health Department said in a statement. “Standing water is conducive to mosquito breeding species which are responsible for transmission of West Nile Virus.”
However we would love to hear DOH’s explanation as to why the railroad property, with much more standing water, doesn’t pose a threat.
Austin charged the city was trying to make a buck off cemetery operators. If he chooses to pay the fine by mail, he will only be charged $600. If he fights it at the Environmental Control Board, he faces a maximum penalty of $1,200. “This is a form of gangster government,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association. “Pay early and pay half.”