Archive | August, 2013

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…

19 Aug

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.

In 2011, ground-penetrating radar was used to create this map of Robb Cemetery. The red rectangles represent “disturbances” which are believed to be grave sites. Click on the map for a closer look.

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Three special events this weekend

2 Aug

There are some really neat events coming up today and tomorrow that I wanted to make sure everyone heard about.

If you can remember back to the Relay for Life scheduled at Thomas High School the first week of June, you might also remember that the weather that night was stinky. Not only was the Relay washed out, so was one of its most meaningful ceremonies, the Luminaria walk.

In the Luminaria ceremony, people light candles inside paper bags decorated with messages for loved ones who are fighting cancer right now, and who have lost that fight. When the ceremony is done at the Relay for Life, the bags are lined up all around the track, while everyone makes a memorial lap. That was not possible with the rains we had that night.

But this evening, weather permitting, the Luminaria Ceremony will take place. Plans are to gather at Veterans Memorial Park in the village of Webster during the regular Friday Night Gazebo Concert (tonight’s features Barry’s Crossing), and place the luminaria around the park, up an alleyway, onto Main Street and back down North Avenue to the gazebo.  Everyone will be invited to join in the luminaria lap through the village after the concert.

We all know someone who has been touched by cancer. This is a beautiful way to honor them.

Tonight’s concert runs from 7-9 pm (bring blankets and lawn chairs) and the ceremony will follow immediately afterwards.

* * *

Tomorrow, also at Veterans Park, the first-ever Webster Folk Festival will kick off at 1 pm. Seven different local folk groups will headline the festival, and a handful of smaller groups will fill in during the set breaks, assuring seven hours of non-stop music.  Musicians are invited to bring their instruments and sit in at the jam tent and there’ll be workshops in fiddle, ukelele, guitar  and drums, and an instrument petting zoo. Several village restaurants will offer refreshments.  There will be a big tent set up so you can get out of the sun, or bring your blankets and coolers and stretch out in the grass.

The music begins at 1 pm, and will continue in the village even after dark, as several of the performers will be playing gigs at Barry’s Old School Irish and Hatter’s Pub.

For more information and a schedule of performers, check out the Webster Folk Festival website and the Facebook page.

* * *

If you’re more into hiking than music, consider attending the grand opening and dedication of the new Eva and Harlan Braman Preserve, on Ridge Road just east of Basket Road.

The preserve is comprised of about 60 acres of successional field, previously farmed, and about 11 acres of mature forest. In the recent past, the property provided important successional field habitat for bobolinks and other birds, including migratory birds.

The Eva and Harlan Braman Preserve was donated to Genesee Land Trust by Laurel Bruns and her brother, Gary Braman, in December of 2011.This gift is in honor of their grandparents, Eva and Harlan Braman.  Remembering a childhood of eating apples grown in her grandfather’s orchards, Laurel thought about the future of this beautiful natural setting and talked with her brother about turning it into a preserve that could be enjoyed by wildlife and by people.

Saturday morning’s ceremony will begin at 10 am with light refreshments, followed by the dedication at 10:30.  You’ll get a sense of the beauty of this preserve as you hike the half mile trail from the parking lot to the dedication site.  Be sure to wear sturdy boots (the grass can be high in places) and be prepared for birds and bugs.

For detailed driving directions, a trail map and more photos, visit the Genesee Land Trust website.