Cemetery contract voided, Turnpike to get $150G back

Saturday, August 09, 2003

By Ken Thorbourne
Journal staff writer

What to do with the remains of thousands of individuals disinterred from an old cemetery on a Turnpike construction site remains a grim and daunting challenge for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

The authority, building an interchange to serve NJ Transit's Secaucus Transfer train station, discovered the remains of an estimated 3,000 individuals in what was once a cemetery for a Hudson County mental institution and hospital complex.

In January, the authority signed a $150,000 con- tract with the Hoboken Cemetery on Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen to rebury the remains, but as the interment was about to begin, consultants working for the authority began finding there already were bones in the new burial site.

"We're outraged," said Joe Orlando, spokesman for the authority. "We had a contract that clearly says this area was free of any prior burials."

Yesterday, Orlando met with the cemetery's board and a court-appointed receiver who was placed in charge of the cemetery in 1987 because of past fiscal problems.

After the meeting, Orlando told The Jersey Journal that the cemetery's board agreed to reimburse the authority its $150,000 payment within the next seven days. "We've begun the process of looking for a new cemetery," Orlando said. "I imagine it's going to take a few weeks to be resolved."

Construction on the $250 million interchange between Exits 16E and 18E began about two years ago.

After the human remains were discovered at the construction site, the authority hired an archeological consultant to conduct an exhumation at the old cemetery at the foot of Laurel Hill in Secaucus.

2003 Jersey Journal


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