City's largest public cemetery will now become park land

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A package of bills was signed into law on Wednesday to make Hart Island more accessible to the public.

To begin, the 131-acre site will now become park land. It is commonly referred to as 'Potter's Field.'

The land is a common final resting place for some million New Yorkers. The city has provided dignity to those buried at the cemetery through the passage of several bills. This means control of Hart Island will transfer from the Department of Corrections to the Parks Department.

This is a historical move that many families whose loved ones are buried there have lobbied for over the years since access to Hart Island was restricted.

Families had to go through a lengthy process to schedule a visit, which was granted once a month. It was not until 2015 that families were allowed more access to their loved ones buried on the Bronx island.

The island has served for 150 years as the city's public graveyard for the very poor, homeless, stillborn children, and unidentified individuals.

The passage of the legislation also mandates the transportation department to come up with a plan that provides ferry service to the island.

The City's Department of Social Services will also establish a division specializing in burial services. They will also hold public meetings concerning Hart Island.

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