FORT ANN — The owner of land next to Brown’s Cemetery in West Fort Ann has moved a fence farther back into his property, making access to the cemetery easier.
“He is doing what he said he would do,” lawyer Mark Rehm said of his client, Ed Paradis. “He’s wanted this all along. He never meant any harm. We hope this will convince those who come to the cemetery that he’s a good person.”
Paradis, the owner of Moose Hillock Resort, is being sued by the town, the Fort Ann American Legion and a number of people who own lots or have relatives buried in the cemetery.
The lawsuit, which is being handled by lawyer William Nikas of Hudson Falls, seeks restoration of the turnaround and parking area at the cemetery, which were blocked by work done by Paradis.
The work done last week has made it much easier to get into and out of the cemetery, especially when combined with the addition of crushed stone, which was put on the access road by the town.
“His first priority was to give people access to the back lots, so the fence has been pushed back,” Rehm said in a telephone call Friday. “He also wanted to make sure there was access to the park and to the turnaround.”
Neither Nikas nor town Supervisor Richard Moore had been advised of the work in advance.
“That work must be voluntary on his part,” said Nikas. “But I understand it is still short of what the APA required and what the Planning Board approved. We’ll see.”
Besides the access issues, the lawsuit also seeks unspecified financial damages from Moose Hillock to those who own plots or have family members buried in the cemetery. It includes the possibility of $45,000 or more in fines to be paid to the town for violations of the Planning Board’s approval of the site.
The filing also seeks to instruct governmental agencies, including the Adirondack Park Agency, to force Paradis to make changes at the cemetery to meet prior agreements, as well as pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs.
But Nikas said the most important action in the lawsuit was to get the parking and turnaround issues solved.
The town has taken control of the site as an abandoned cemetery, because no official group is maintaining it or selling plots. Last week, workers from Washington County Alternative Sentencing were mowing the cemetery, and Moore said over the weekend the town will likely add more gravel to the road.
“Yes, we just need to determine how far to extend it. Once we know, the work will be done,” he said. “The crushed stone makes a big difference.”
The land next to the cemetery had long been farmland. It was owned by Hiram Brown, then sold to the West family. Clara West sold the land to Richland Properties and eventually it was purchased by Paradis.
Both the Browns and Wests sold cemetery plots, and some of the burials there go back several hundred years, and include Revolutionary War veterans. But there are no complete records of plot sales, and some people do not have deeds to their plots. Questions have been raised about the boundaries of the cemetery.
The 182-acre campground has private sites for tent and RV camping and also has cabin suites.