The 300 year old Leverich family burial ground needs a cleanup.
The grassy Jackson Heights lot sits behind several residences facing Leverich Street and 35th Avenue at 71st Street. There is no public access and no visible gravestones, but people have found a way to throw trash into the only remaining relic of the prominent Newtown family’s homestead, which was part of the 17th century settlement of Trains Meadow.
“Worse yet, an abutting neighbor has built onto the property,” Community Board 3 member Martin Maier said. “He has erected a 6-foot-by-8-foot high, solid wood, white fence.”
Fifteen years ago, former Councilwoman Helen Sears instigated a cleanup of the area. The plot was rid of vegetation and an iron gate with pad locks and a sign warning of a $20,000 fine for litter was constructed.
Now the locks have vanished. Instead the gates are held closed by two sticks, Maier said.
A spokesman with Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said the lawmaker would like to orchestrate a volunteer cleanup in the spring, but nothing is on the calendar right now.
And taking some time on the how is a good thing, Queens Historical Society Collections Manager Richard Hourahan said.
There are many historic burial grounds throughout the state. As with the Leverich plots it’s hard to decipher who owns the property. A document submitted by a descendant of the family, Tom Leverich, indicates that the burial ground’s lein was sold to Capitol Assets and J.E. Roberts in 2001, but it’s possible the land is back in the hands of the state.
Nevertheless a volunteer crew would need permits to set foot on the property.
“Someone can’t just go into my backyard and clean it up,” Hourahan said.
In the long run Hourahan said sorting out the ownership would be beneficial. A regular cleanup regiment could be arranged, he said, and the Leverich burial ground could get a little TLC more than every 15 years.