Trucks damage stones in St. Casimir's cemetery


TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- For at least the past five years, tractor trailers making deliveries to the Amsterdam Industrial Park have been rerouted through St. Casimir's Cemetery, where staff said they either get stuck or leave a trail of destruction on their way out.

Matthew Constantine, building and grounds superintendent, said on Monday morning, a truck barreled through the cemetery, knocking down an entranceway pillar, a large tree, and three gravestones.

"The people who own these headstones don't need to see that," Constantine said. "They're upset and that's natural. It hurts."

On an occasion when a truck driver got stuck in the cemetery, Constantine said he was able to figure out why there was confusion.

"We've been trying to pinpoint where the problem is by talking to the truckers we find up here and see what destination they're going to," Constantine said. "It seems to be most of them are going to the industrial park and their GPSs are taking them up here."

Though Constantine and the cemetery staff have installed signs prohibiting trucks from entering, instructing them there is no turn-around spot, implemented motion-detecting lights and cleared out a space for stuck trucks to turn around, it hasn't helped.

"It's laziness on the driver's part," Constantine said. "They're just looking for some way to not use reverse and just drive straight through."

A pillar knocked over in yesterday's collision had a sign that said "do not enter," but now it is wedged between the pillar and a grassy area near a row of gravestones.

"These roads have a funnel effect," Constantine explained. "They start going in, they're going in, they're going in, then they start seeing they're not going to make and now they're forced. Instead of stopping here [at the entrance] where it says cemetery, the sign that says 'do not enter.' That's the problem."

Town Supervisor Tom DiMezza also tried to help the situation by closing off Park Road, a stretch of pavement leading into the cemetery, to traffic, Constantine said. DiMezza did not return a request for comment.

A road block with a sign that reads "road closed" was at the entrance of Park Road.

Constantine said he had been in contact with some of the companies he suspected may be receiving the early morning or late night deliveries from the tractor trailers.

"They said it's a problem for them, too, because they're having truck drivers get lost and they have to give them directions," Constantine said.

Breton Industries, Inc., is a manufacturing company that creates military grade sewn and heat-sealed fabric items in the industrial park. A receptionist at the company confirmed they receive deliveries by tractor trailers, but said she hadn't heard of any getting stuck in the cemetery.

She said the company's CEO and president Richard Lewis would return the call if he thought the company played a role in the cemetery's destruction, but no calls were received.

Fiber Glass Industries, a fiberglass manufacturer next to Breton, was also a company cited by Constantine as a potential source of the problem.

A representative of the company said he called around to the companies that drop off products to them and spoke with the company's truck driver, and no one was familiar with the complaint.

He said if there were a problem with the drivers delivering materials to his company, he would work to find a solution but isn't aware of FGI's involvement at this time.

Constantine said he wants to contact the companies who create GPS maps so the trucks won't be sent into St. Casimir's.

Constantine said he's trying to find a solution that doesn't involve denying visitors access to the cemetery, which is open every day of the year.

"What we didn't want to do is chain off the area," Constantine said. "The people didn't want it restricted, because you would have to have man power to come here and open it up every day and close it up every day. There's not money in cemeteries to do that. Then you're restricting the people who are not causing the problem."

Constantine said he is contacting the diocese's insurance to determine who will fund the replacement grave markers and pillar.