Legislation could make Hart Island more accessible to the public

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A legislation in the works could make Hart Island more accessible to the public.

Since the 1800s, Hart Island has been used to bury New Yorkers in mass graves with the help of prison laborers.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez introduced two bills last year that would change Hart Island's owners from the Department of Corrections to the city Parks Department. The island is the country's largest public-funded cemetery.

For years, families have been restricted, having to reserve visits.

Director Melinda Hunt has attended many of the public hearings. Later this month, the Department of Health will tackle the issue from another angle.

"We are ready to pass this bill that will transfer Hart Island from Corrections to Parks. At the same time, this will mandate the city of New York to put together a transportation plan so that we will have a better way on how New Yorkers and visitors should be able to go and visit their loved ones," said Hunt.

"If more bodies are going to be buried in that location, then we need to work with the city of New York, be sure it happens in a dignified matter," said Councilman Rodriguez.

The fate of the island is still in question until the City Council votes to either pass or deny the bills.

The next hearing is set for Oct. 24.

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