BURNT HILLS: Fallen fence calls group to action

Volunteer efforts are under way to replace the crumbling fencing circling the quaint, historic Hillside Cemetery on Kingsley Road in Burnt Hills.

The weathered cast-iron fencing, completely down in some areas, has been deteriorating for decades, decaying in part from the salt and snowplows used on the roads to control ice and the elements.

A group of town volunteers is hoping to raise about $12,000 to install new fencing.

According to organizer Dorothy Hopkinson, the fencing is about 100 years old.

We are committed to having the fencing fixed completely, said Hopkinson. "Right now, animals can get in and kids ride through on bikes. There's a certain reverence needed here to keep it private."

The volunteers said fund-raising efforts have been going well to date, with many residents stepping up to open their wallets.

"We've even had people send donations from out of state," said project volunteer Richard Gribben. "People who used to live here want to see it properly preserved."

The organizers hope to shave some costs off the installation of new fencing by using volunteers to help remove some of the old fencing. This task could prove to be formidable, however.

"The posts are cast iron wedges about 2 inches thick that taper into the ground," said Gribben. "It would take an enormous amount of hard labor. The last time we tried to remove part of the fence, we needed a tractor lift."

Once removed, some of the ornate old fencing could end up being recycled for an entirely new use.

"People have shown interest in taking parts of the antique fence to add to their yards or gardens," said Hopkinson. "Someone even told me they want to hang them in kitchens and display copper pots and pans on them."

The group plans to research how to have the site declared a historic property, which could lead to grant funding for physical improvements.

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