Hochul is open to repurposing a Brooklyn cemetery into park space, but wants Cardinal Dolan’s help

(January 15, 2022) — Governor Kathy Hochul is interested in appointing a civic commission of landscape architects, theologians, and ethicists to reimagine urban cemeteries and to make recommendations on how to repurpose some of New York City’s largest burial grounds for badly needed public park space — including the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, founded in 1838.  She is planning to ask Cardinal Timothy Dolan to serve as chairman of the commission as early as next week.

Hochul believes that the vast 470-acre gated-cemetery can better serve humanity as a public park, and could be enormously valuable quality of life infrastructure for all of Brooklyn.  New York City is badly in need of new public space — and Hochul wonders if some burial practices have become environmentally unsustainable inside of dense urban environments from a land use perspective.

“One option is to commit to not disturbing or relocating any remains, and instead plant one or two trees on-top of each gravesite, so that the entire 470-acres becomes very thickly wooded, with the exception of existing driveways and paved pedestrian trails.  We may keep some meadows, allowing for natural regeneration over time, but there will be no mowed lawns because we’re not sure whether we would want to encourage uses like frisbee or picnics above the burial plots,” a source close to Peter Davidson, the Chairman of Green-Wood Cemetery, explains.  “That may change, on the advice of theologians.  We’re not sure.”

Green-Wood’s entrance gate at 25th Street.

Landscape architects are calling the concept ‘The Enchanted Forest of Brooklyn’ — so thickly planted that a walk or jog becomes an entirely immersive experience that allows residents to momentarily escape their densely populated neighborhoods of South Slope, Sunset Park, Kensington, and Borough Park, on trails that meander for miles.

“The idea is to allow nature to retake the entire site in a way that respects the memory of those buried there.  Our tentative plan to deal with headstones is to relocate nearly all of them so that architects can reuse them to build commemorative walls and remembrance monuments on the site,” he adds.  “There are a lot of ideas that are under consideration, but we wouldn’t want to float some ideas until the city’s religious leadership has an opportunity to advise us on the appropriateness of various strategies.”

“Depending on what Cardinal Dolan advises, we may want to extract DNA from the 600,000 human remains on site in order to compile a genetic database with corporate and research partners,” he notes.  “The Governor is particularly excited about what ‘humanity mapping’ might teach us about cancer.”

Brooklyn was the epicenter of immigration in the United States for more than 100 years, and the Green-Wood Cemetery has been the borough’s most sought after burial ground.  It’s crypts could emerge as valuable research frontiers in genetics, medicine, bio-mapping, genealogy, and cultural anthropology — and a joint venture between Pfizer, Ancestry.com, Cornell UniversitySloan-Kettering, and the Museum of the City of New York could be in the works.  If State approval is granted, it could be worth more than $200 million for the Green-Wood Cemetery, which would likely use the funds to endow it’s genealogy library and visitor center.

“If Governor Hochul and Cardinal Dolan approve the research portion of this project, it would be like the Apollo project — and all privately funded,” he asserts.  “But if they only approve Green-Wood’s conversion to a public park, we think that will have pretty profound impacts on Brooklyn’s quality of life too.  It would also save us a lot of money on perpetual maintenance of our lawns, which could better be used for remembrance ceremonies and other programing.”

Contrary to popular belief, Green-Wood Cemetery was not designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, who designed the nearby Prospect Park.  Green-Wood predates Prospect Park, which opened in 1867.

51 Comments

  1. Greenwood is already very much a park. I hope the governor has been there and seen how many people walk around day to day. Is there really a need to disturb these remains? Are there plans to compensate families for the costs of burial?

  2. Let the dead rest in peace, don’t desecrate their graves. They have earned their rest. It’s consecrated ground and should not be disturbed.

    • What is she nuts Let the dead rest in peace, don’t desecrate their graves. They have earned their rest. It’s consecrated ground and should not be disturbed.

  3. How dare she Prospect Park is big enough Greenwood Cemetery is consecrated ground I have many family members & friends buried there & find it quite disrespectful that all those that are laid to rest there should be disturb not to mention the fact that families bought those gravesites along with head stones so that we may have a quite place to visit with them . I can go on forever I for one am not in favor of this NOT ONE BIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Do not desecrate the remains. Let the deceased Rest In Peace.
      It is a disrespectful and insensitive idea.

  4. Removing headstones to create a wall. We have big problems. We cannot to waste time on her silly project…disrespectful as it is

    • Disgraceful. And there is that name again…Pfizer….how disturbing is that? I’m pretty sure that the people that purchased those plots and headstones did so because they liked the environment as it was. Absolutely a disgraceful idea, even if you got every clergy member on earth to sign off on it. We shall see very quickly who kneels to God and who kneels to the state. This must be another one of the things that Hochul thinks God is telling her.

  5. I don’t even live in NY and think this is a terrible idea. I hope the families who have loved ones there completely boycott this idea. If this comes to fruition, every family of every person buried there should be compensated so that they can exhume and rebury their loved ones in the same manner that they were originally buried or entombed.
    What’s really sad is that the cemetery seems to support this!! 😡😡😡

  6. People got the last governor who is the fuck in crazy buffet this woman is totally off-the-wall if God for bid he should die they don’t have the barrier I don’t have to bury her in the rub in time square and give people dogs treats for a quarter three or a quarter to throw into the fucking imbecile

  7. I have a lot of family in Greenwood over my dead body will this happen there are other important pressing issues you need to addressed not making a cemetery a park… move on sister this will not happen!!!

  8. Governor Hochul Yokel is a fascist and if Timothy Dolan silently complies with her just like Pope Pius did with Adolph Hitler then I will become an Athiest.

  9. This is disgraceful. And What the hell does Cardinal Dolan have to do with Greenwood? For over a century, we Catholics were not allowed to be buried there because it was not “consecrated ground.” I am not by nature a nay sayer but…. THIS IS A KNIFE IN THE HEART TO EVERY FAMILY THAT HAS LOVED ONES THERE! KEEP YOU HANDS OFF OUR GREENWOOD! Gov. Hochul will be a one term governor if this screw idea gathers steam. Suddenly everyone is onto if for the money it would generate. Disgusting and disgraceful!

  10. Sorry for the typos in prior post.. My anger blurred my vision. “Gov. Hochul will be a one term governor if this screwy idea gathers steam. Suddenly everyone is into it for the money it would generate.” Add-on: For centuries the Roman Catholic Church did not allowcreations. Finally in recent decades it has changed its position but many of us remember being taught it was wrong etc. If you did get cremated or assisted in it you would go to hell to join all those who ate meat on Fridays I guess. It’s just the gall and hypocrisy of Cardinal Dolan to even think of this project. This is the hypocrite who seemed to embrace that demon Trump. It’s people like Dolan who made a lot of us leave the church.

  11. How dare you! Desecrate graves? You’ll be in the fight of your life. My family are buried in that cemetery.

  12. My parents are buried there. It is a 9 plot grave and I am going to buried there. Now I will have to pay thousands to buy a plot somewhere else? This is a disgrace this consecrated land. She will never get my vote. Cardinal. Dolan better shoot this down

  13. Just FYI – Cardinal Dolan heads the Archdiocese of New York, which does NOT include Brooklyn or Queens. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens has its own Bishop. The Governor needs to get her jurisdictions straightened out. And the Catholic Church should have no say in the matter anyway, the Church required practicing Catholics were to be buried in Catholic cemeteries.

  14. Not so fast Hochul…you have been placed in office for a minute and continue to destroy our city! Dig up your own family members and leave mine alone!! Good luck getting my family’s DNA! You are a disgrace!

  15. All my deceased relatives and my husband is there, no way do I want to see this happen! What would happen to the 2 plots that are not filled yet, that were paid for? Make plans they say, and this idiot comes along and wants it a park.? Sacred grounds. Cardinal Dolan please do not go along with this!

  16. How dare she desecrate the remains of my parents! And to extract dna from them!!
    This is a sacrilege and should not be tolerated by the Catholic Church. The cesspool of New York will be sued by every descendant of those buried in Greenwood Cemetery which is a National Historic Landmark.

  17. This sounds like fake news, I can’t believe that the gov Hochul actually came up with this. If so she has lost my vote.

  18. She’s out of her fucking mind vote her out and leave Greenwood Cemetary alone !! If this is true how dare she! All my loved ones are there and we have a family plot .

  19. I don’t even know what to comment on first…the fact that she wants to make another park in Brooklyn (they have more parks, basketball courts, and playgrounds than the suburbs of Long Island), the fact that she wants to make the park on a cemetery (insensitive, and have we learned nothing from Poltergeist), that they want a heavily wooded area for people to walk through in Brooklyn (or get mugged/raped), that she is seeking the Cardinals approval (since when do they care what the church has to say on anything), or that she wants to do science projects on the bodies of the dead (has Fauci not done enough experiments)… People need to get rid of these wackos in office. The next election can’t come soon enough!

  20. It sounds insensitive to say that I’d be in favor of this if it WASN’T the Greenwood Cemetery. Greenwood is the most stunning, spectacular, gorgeous, historic cemetery. It should be landmarked, not destroyed. But I do think allowing people to spend time there, to use the grounds, to exercise by running or walking, could be considered. If I was buried there, I would love the company!!

  21. “…we think that will have pretty profound impacts on Brooklyn’s quality of life too.” I think it has more to do with the $200 million that will profoundly impact her quality of life. Always beware a politician that wants to do something “for the people” I don’t wish to visit my ancestors at a memorial wall, and Dolan doesn’t represent my convictions. If the Governor were truthful with the public, she would tell us this is politics as usual, a political feather in her cap, and a money maker for herself and her friends. Let us not be fooled.

  22. I have beloved family there. Greenwood is already open to the public to walk around, birdwatch, enjoy nature, etc. How dare this even be proposed. Disturbing the dead so a bunch of hipsters can jog around, skateboard, have picnics and ride their bikes. Do it elsewhere, there are plenty of available parks and if more park space is needed, build it elsewhere.

  23. This governor is attacking religious beliefs more and more. Our elected officials failed us from the get go when communities were begging for help to stop overdevelopment and allowed involved agencies and developers to discard the recommendations in the SEQRA/CEQRA to allow real estate giants to thrive. Now we are expected to give up respect for the dead? No. The governor should go back to the drawing board and purchase properties that can be used for open space, instead of being greedy and disrespectful.

  24. Nothing else needs to be said. All the previous posts are from people who have spoken from their heart. My parents, aunt and uncle as well as my mother in law ,two of my sisters in law , my wife’s uncle and an Urn commemorating my wife who was killed on 911; at the World Trade Center.
    To begin …. It is currently a National Land Mark; visited and respected by thousands of people.
    If Mr. Trump was in office, he would a STOP to this horrible idea… may God stand by all Greenwood Cemetery family members and put an end to this nonsense!!!

  25. Purposely desecrating graves is an atrocity. The cemetery is a National Landmark. If this happens then will the next one be Calvary cemetery in Queens(365acres) or even Arlington cemetery( 639 acres). Has the governor ever visited Greenwood cemetery cemetery? Human life is sacred dead or alive. In addition there are more important and vital ways to spend money whether it be from private or public funds.

    • No way. This is a Sacred place. People come to pray
      Over their Loved ones. I hope Cardinal Dolan never
      Entertains this idiotic idea. And Hochul,Stay out of
      BROOKLYN.

  26. How dare she! My family has been buried there for generations . she will have an enormous problem on her hands if she continues on this path. We need to organize, to march, to rally; whatever it takes to put a stop to her “enchanted park” which is THE FINAL RESTING PLACE FOR PEOPLE! IT’S SACRED GROUND!!! Extract DNA??? Is she out of her mind??

  27. We need to March, to rally- bring in the media .. whatever it takes to stop her insanity. Let’s organize snd fight back.. my family has been buried there for generations. She cannot be permitted to do this… period!

  28. Hey governor, why dont you dig up your family and put them somewhere else. Are you out of your fucking mind. Never in a million years you would ever think of making a cemetery into park. I have all my family in there. How dare you you even think of it. My hair is at end and my blood is boiling at the thought of it. Shame on you. If you need park space, knock down some of these useless buildings and use that space. Let the dead rest in peace. Shame on you.

  29. Insane. Greenwood is already a beautiful park with many wonderful events serving the public. Now this moron wants to dig up my families headstones? Plant TREES on top of them? Take their DNA? Over my dead body. People murdering. Rioting. Inflation out of control. A pandemic still raging snd this is where hochul has her head??what the hell is wrong with this picture. In office a minute and tearing down some more history. Five thousand civil war hero’s buried there. Let’s desecrate their graves too so we can make way for a park!!! You’ve got to be kidding.

  30. As someone whose father and other friends and family are buried here, I am absolutely offended by such an idea. The deceased are not to be disturbed. It is bad enough that they suggest repurposing such hallowed grounds, but the suggestion of DNA sampling makes me sick to my stomach. May the souls of the deceased haunt this woman and those others in support for as long as they live, and beyond that.

  31. This is absolutely appalling. The entire state of New York has massive amounts of land you can use for your parks. And if you want a park in that area of Brooklyn, you can take a quick walk to Sunset Park. Plus, people already tour the grounds and there are events/tours as well. And if the Governor and Cardinal Dolan (which, what kind of Catholic behavior is this? Disturbing the dead for financial and “research” purpose) had ever walked through the cemetery, they would see that it is already amassed in beautiful greenery.

    There’s absolutely zero need to desecrate the graves of those who have passed – where is the respect for them and their loved ones? You’ve seen a handful in these comments, myself included with respect to my father, whose lives in memories you would quite literally be uprooting for this purpose. Shame on you.

  32. Greenwood Cemetery is sacred place that has the remains of thousands of loved ones. People walk around the cemetery all the time. How many parks does Brooklyn need? We are loaded with them plus we have all of Shore Road to walk, run and ride bikes. Cardinal Dolan please do not allow this to happen, please let our loved ones Rest In Peace.

  33. I work close by Greenwood and walk in it almost every day. It is such a beautiful peaceful place and available to all for a nice walk. It would be terrible for the Governor to do what is being proposed or even thought about.

  34. As someone who works in a comparable cemetery to GW in terms of size and history, I am absolutely horrified at this proposal. To completely disregard the generations of people who made their final arrangements by purchasing plots, paying for interment, commissioning monuments (whether they are modest footstones or grand mausoleums), and laying their loved ones to rest here is simply a disgrace and I am glad to see so many other comments opposed to it. I fear a very bad precedent if this goes forward with other cemeteries getting out of their obligation to provide care for graves by converting to a park.

  35. Why doesn’t this governor tackle the real problems of New York City. Take care of the homeless and mental cases that have over run the city in the worst way. New Yorkers and tourist alike live in fear of the violence that has them looking all around for fear of being beaten, pushed onto train tracks or down the stairs and live like its the 1970s again??!!! Take care of your police department which can no longer do their jobs in peace for other reasons. LEAVE THE CEMETERY ALONE!!!!!

    I have plans of being buried there in my family plot. Where am I supposed to go otherwise? Greenwood should take care of the cemetery by no longer allowing people in there with their nasty dogs and their nasty habit of not cleaning up after their PETS!!!!! They probably keep their bathrooms in the same condition as the reason for these nasty habits. They want their personal time with their emotional support then have it at HOME OR PROSPECT PARK!!!!! These emotional crutches are no longer allowed in other public spaces like restaurants , stores , or planes then Greenwood administration needs to get on board with that too!!!!!

    I can be agreeable to a yearly fee for maintenance of the cemetery maybe most people would be but I say no to such a dastardly plan!!!!! I hope before anymore talk goes forward you Greenwood contacts plot holders and family for their input…!!!!!!

  36. I also want to address someone’s idea that biking or running thru there is something to consider. People are no longer sensitive to anyone else’s needs. I can just see the biking will make skateboarding okay and the accidents of knocking people over and ignoring injuries….nooo bad idea. I have also seen frisbees thrown about and pieces of stones knocked off!! THE RESULTS OF MANY PARK ACTIVITIES HAVE ALREADY IMPACTED GREENWOOD!!!!!Greenwood needs to go back to being the beautiful landmark prior to COVID!!!!! I know security can not be around everywhere all the time but maybe if more of us spoke up this can be turned around.

    I want to remain anonymous since I have been treated in a most AGGRESSIVE MANNER when I’ve requested that dogs be kept on a leash and not running loose on my grandparents grave possibly leading to them relieving themselves on their graves or nearby friends. What happened to walking dogs in the street on the perimeter of the cemetety???? NO, NOW ITS A DOG’S TOILET !!! !Why do I have to watch where I walk now I no longer feel peace walking in to visit my loved ones. Between possible dog attacks or by their owners, I FEAR REPRISALS AND REMAIN ANONYMOUS FOR NOW!!!!

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