In 2009, several large trees were cut down, limbed and/or topped in the Brownsville Cemetery without authorization.
Historic and abandoned cemeteries, such as Brownsville, are protected under several state statutes. Burials, markers, memorials, gates, fences, and even shrubbery and trees are protected elements of a cemetery. Penalties for unauthorized damage to a cemetery can include criminal and civil penalties.
After nearly two years of negotiating, the DAHP, the Brownsville Cemetery Historic Preservation Association, and the tree cutter have reached a settlement. The settlement releases the tree cutter of any further liability but required him to pay approximately $14,000 to the Brownsville Cemetery Historic Preservation Association. The Association can now use the funds to restore the cemetery and clean up the debris and the downed trees, and to plant new ones. The tree cutter must also request permission before entering the cemetery again.
The Association, who is chaired by President Michael Brownell, will have an archaeologist on site during the clean-up to insure no graves are damaged by tree and debris removal.
Now that the agreement is finalized, the Brownsville Cemetery Historic Preservation Association can continue to work with local residents and organizations to maintain and restore the cemetery and insure the people buried there are treated respectfully.