Cheryl Rebhan, who is vice president of the Memory Gardens board of directors said she believes noise from an adjacent sports complex would destroy the peacefulness of the memorial park.
“People go there to read, eat lunch by the pond. It’s very serene and quiet. To take all that serenity from people, it’s hard to fathom that,” Rebhan said. “There is a man who comes in and will sit next to his wife’s grave all day and read the newspaper or a book. I can’t imagine how he would feel if there was cheering in the background.”
Memory Garden sits on 200 acres on a ridge that is one of the highest points in the town of Colonie and is the final resting place of approximately 36,000 people. There is room for at least another 140,000 burial sites. There are fountains, ponds and well-manicured landscaping throughout the grounds.
Afrim Sports is applying for a land use variance permit so it can build four soccer fields and an 86,865-square-foot dome. Currently, the land on 969 Watervliet Shaker Road is zoned for commercial and office buildings. The variance permit is required because a law passed in the Town of Colonie in 2007 would classify the new complex as a major amusement area. The zoning board will be taking a look at the variance request at its Thursday, Nov. 21 meeting.
Nezaj said he believes the land next to the memorial park would be ideal for a number of reasons.
“When I went there, I saw flat land and a cemetery next door. It has the least amount of people it would affect,” said Nezaj.
There is a ridge lined with trees that borders the property line and separates where the field would be and the burial sites, but at their closest point, the field is less than 100 feet away from a gravestone.