St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst is looking to expand in order to continue serving the community — both in this life and after.
In order to make sure St. Michael’s, located at 72-02 Astoria Boulevard, does not run out of space and continues to serve the community, the cemetery is in talks to purchase a city park space located by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and 30th Avenue.
According to Ed Horn, a St. Michael’s official, the park property has been abandoned for years and there is no access to the space except through the cemetery.
“It’s not a park, it has never been a park,” said Horn. “The cemetery is a vital resource for the community. There is a great civil and social purpose for acquiring this land.”
In order for St. Michael’s to purchase the land, it must work with the Parks Department to identify replacement parkland.
“The land is not a park, it’s completely in despair,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate for the cemetery to obtain the land. “It’s not functional at the moment. This presents an opportunity for a win-win. A small business gets to utilize a place in despair and we get a park space in return.”
The narrow park strip which the cemetery is looking to acquire was designated to serve as a landscaped buffer along the western side of the BQE, according to a Parks spokesperson.
They added the city is still in discussions with St. Michael’s Cemetery and the Department of Citywide Administrative Services about obtaining the site and about finding the best replacement.
“Right now, the cost of a local funeral is very high, mostly due to a shortage of cemetery space in our community,” said Assemblymember Aravella Simotas. “Permitting an abandoned and generally inaccessible parcel of parkland to be used by St. Michael’s Cemetery would stabilize plot costs and prevent our loved ones from being priced out of a burial in their own community.”