Historic cemeteries group seeks town help with upkeep

The group known as Friends of Wilton Historic Cemeteries will be seeking town help with upkeep of several historic cemeteries.

“Many of these cemeteries are suffering from carelessness, they’re overgrown,” said Al Stauderman, chairman of the Friends of Wilton Historic Cemeteries, who said he will make a pitch for the Board of Selectmen’s help at the next meeting of the board, in September.

Stauderman said he hopes the Board of Selectmen will allow the Department of Public Works to get into the cemeteries and assist with work like clearing fallen tree limbs, by running them through a wood chipper.

“We want to call the public’s attention to the cemeteries and encourage the preservation of those cemeteries, and their care,” Stauderman said in a telephone interview.

The issue came to light at First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice’s Lunch With Lynne meeting with the public on Aug. 23. Stauderman wanted to talk about it there, but realized it would take too much time so he spoke with reporters and indicated he would broach the subject at a future Board of Selectmen meeting.

He has six cemeteries on his to-do list. The two most pressing cases that demand attention immediately though, are Bald Hill Cemetery, owned by the Bald Hill Cemetery Association on Ridgefield Road, and DeForest Cemetery, owned by the DeForest Family on DeForest Road.

Both date from the mid-1800s, he said.

“They’re blighted,” Stauderman said. “We believe these cemeteries should be properly cared for out of respect for the persons who are interred there. We see a benefit to the town if we can discontinue them being neglected.”

The Friends have also called for volunteers, and expect to get help from the Wilton Garden Club and the local Boy Scouts, among other groups, he said.

Stauderman does not anticipate a problem getting the Board of Selectmen’s help.

Vanderslice, asked about Stauderman’s request in an email, said she could not comment because she does not know the details of what he said in a conversation with a reporter.