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Yonkers, NY - Dispute Settled Over Orthodox Jewish Cemetery Memorial

Published on: August 9, 2006 11:40 AM
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Yonkers, NY - Plans for a memorial on the site of a former Orthodox Jewish cemetery are moving forward after a delay of more than a year due to legal proceedings.  The memorial commemorating the cemetery is to be built on the site of the city’s Austin Avenue retail project, built by Morris Industrial Builders. Its creation is the result of a court action brought by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.  Spitzer’s office first filed a case against the developer in 2004 after it was discovered that the remains of only 12 or 13 identified children in the cemetery had been moved, while more than 100 graves for children were marked on the cemetery map. The issue was brought to court again last month when Spitzer’s office claimed the developer’s plans for the proposed memorial were too small and out of the way.  Both sides reached an agreement after a visit to the site - now a parking lot for The Home Depot and Costco - by state Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz late last month. Philip Halpern, an attorney for the. Rutherford, N.J.-based developer, said drawings for the proposed monument should be done by the end of the month. “The issue - it never was a problem - is solved,” Halpern said. “Morris went out of his way in this case.”  The two sides agreed to place the memorial where Spitzer’s office suggested it go - along the western side of the Costco parking lot - but it will be smaller than originally proposed.  Morris agreed to build the memorial in January 2005 after the two sides had argued in court over the disputed graves of 135 children whose remains were not accounted for before the cemetery was demolished at the site. In the settlement, Morris agreed to pay $100,000 to the Attorney General’s Office for the memorial, which would commemorate the approximately 94 adults and 147 children who were buried there. Any funds left over would go to a charity group agreed on by the court.  

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