Conservation Commission Orders Hilldale Cemetery Trustees to Protect Wetland Resource Area

Part of the Hilldale Cemetery was disturbed by trustees of the cemetery and volunteers in an effort to remove clutter in the area. (File photograph.)

A plan has been established by the Haverhill Conservation Commission to repair damages and preserve wetland areas at the Hilldale Cemetery.

On Thursday night, the commission met with Cemetery Trustee Tammy Dobrosielski and Cemetery Trustee President Thomas Spitalere to plan out how to restore a portion of the cemetery after wetland violations were incurred while volunteers were performing a cleanup project in the cemetery. These violations occurred between late October and Nov. 7.

As WHAV previously reported, half an acre of land was cleared and a number of obscured gravestones were accidentally run over by a tractor during a volunteer cleanup effort The contractors also dug a channel to prepare for improvements to the area. It was during the cleanup that a century-old urn containing the remains of Joshua Ordway were uncovered. In the process, said Conservation Agent Robert E. Moore Jr., volunteers and contractors hired by the Hilldale Cemetery Association encroached on a wetlands resource area.

During Thursday’s hearing, Spitalere insisted violations were due to a miscommunication between the trustees and volunteers and that efforts have already been made to restore the graves. Retired firefighter and Kimball Farm President Tyler C. Kimball, who serves as one of those volunteers, said grave markers were donated by Atwood Memorial to identify existing, unmarked graves in the cemetery.

The commission unanimously approved an enforcement directive for the trustees to establish a resource area restoration plan with the help of a wetlands expert and submit it by March 28. The trustees must also identify a boundary between the resource area and the rest of the cemetery and install a post-and-rail fence along that boundary, as well as fill the channel dug up by contractors. A date for completion of the physical repairs has not been set.