KINGSTON, NY – A resolution authorizing the county to spend $2.8 million on a new veterans’ cemetery was approved by the county Legislature’s Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, though the new price has shocked at least one legislator sticker.
Legislator Eve Walter raised objections to the price of the project at the committee meeting and a Democratic caucus, saying the cost had risen several times from an initial estimate of $270,000 to $1.4 million dollars and now at $2.8 million.
“I fully support veterans, I fully support this project in concept,” said Walter, D-New Paltz. “It seems irresponsible not to pay attention to the fact that the cost has doubled in one year,” she said, adding that the price had increased “900% in four years.”
Minority Leader Ken Ronk said that when it comes to veterans, the county shouldn’t “be cheap”.
“When it’s time for our veterans to have a proper burial, I don’t think it’s time for nickel-and-dime things,” said Ronk, R-Wallkill. “No one has seen inflation out of control. No one expected building materials to skyrocket.
Ulster County Executive Administration officials Pat Ryan said the initial cost estimate of $270,000 was for improvements including the construction of a pavilion and landscaping of the cemetery existing veterans.
The cost rose to $1.4 million when the county decided to expand the Veterans’ Cemetery to an area across the street from the existing burial grounds.
In March, lawmakers unanimously and without discussion approved a resolution declaring the expansion project would have no significant environmental impact on the region and another authorizing the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to reach an agreement with New Paltz Rural Cemetery for the creation of the new cemetery, which will be located approximately 300 yards from the county’s existing Veterans Cemetery.
The new cemetery will accommodate approximately 3,000 burial plots.
Burial in the cemetery is available to all Ulster County veterans and their spouses or dependent children at county expense.
Deputy County Executive Marc Rider said the $1.4 million award is to cover the cost of building this new cemetery, which will include a pavilion, walkways, decorative fencing and an area for cremains. to bury.
Deputy County Manager Johanna Contreras attributed the $2.7 million cost hike to inflation and high material costs. She said that while the administration was surprised at the final price, “given that we have the financial resources…we felt very comfortable moving forward.”
She and Rider said that as the project progresses, the county will work with the developer to identify savings through “value engineering.”
If the resolution is approved by the entire legislature on May 17, officials plan a groundbreaking ceremony for the new cemetery on Memorial Day.