Proposed affordable housing could be built on Quaker cemetery

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Some community members in Westchester Square say they're concerned that a proposed affordable housing building could be built on top of an old Quaker cemetery.

Anthony Pisciotta used to walk by St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Westchester Avenue every day as a kid. The presence of the still-remaining church, tombstones and property inspired him to volunteer at Research Cemeteries. He says it's important to determine whether the site is a burial ground.

St. Peter's Church, Chapel and Cemetery Complex was designated as a New York City landmark in 1976. A portion of the lot is not under landmark jurisdiction, even though the city's planning site shows that all of lot No. 6 is a cemetery.

A proposal made to Community Board 10 last month to build affordable housing on the seemingly empty end of the church's property sparked a passionate fight to find out if anything, or anyone, is underground.

An 1865 map that clearly shows a Quaker cemetery and meeting house.

Longtime community members say they want a third party to survey and use a radar on the portion of the church in question to find the truth.

The church's attorney sent News 12 a statement saying:

We want to be very clear on the concerns that have been raised. St. peter's takes its responsibility as the steward of its cemetery very seriously, and no development has or will occur on any burial grounds – Quaker or otherwise. The church and its team have undertaken extensive efforts to ensure this, including reviewing land use records and archives, testing the ground with radar technology and consulting with the landmarks preservation commission. All documents, discussions and studies confirm that there are no burial grounds at the development site.

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