FORT ANN — The owner of Moose Hillock campground and adjacent land said Wednesday he has been trying to donate land to the West Fort Ann Cemetery for four years.
“We do not have an entity to deed it to,” Ed Paradis said in a telephone interview. “When we bought the property four years ago, we took immediate steps to protect the graveyard. We have kept the driveway, which is our private land, open, because I understand how important it is to people.”
Town Supervisor Richard Moore said he will address the issue at Monday’s 7 p.m. board meeting at the Fort Ann Fire Co. Paradis said his lawyer will be attending.
Moore said he expects to receive a petition regarding the cemetery. An online petition at Change.org had 876 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
Paradis has come under fire from local residents because of an earthen berm and fence he put up on the property.
He feels that criticism is unfair.
“We left a good 10 feet from the edge of our property,” Paradis said. “I think people are criticizing us unjustly. We have never limited access to the cemetery.
“Some of the plots people bought are actually on our property, but we do not know who sold them,” he said. “The survey shows the cemetery’s boundaries, mine and the neighbors’. It’s extremely clear.”
Moore, Paradis and their respective lawyers met about 10 days ago, Moore said.
“My attorney and the town’s have been talking about this for four years,” Paradis noted.
The land had long been farmland, first owned by Hiram Brown, then sold to the Wests. Clara West sold the land to Richland Properties and eventually it was purchased by Paradis.
The 182-acre campground has a tropically themed pool area called Aloha Beach, which includes a mock volcano. It has private sites for tent and RV camping and also has cabin suites.
Paradis has been criticized at the last two Town Board meetings, because some residents feel the fence and berm make it too hard to get to parts of the cemetery and impossible to get to a site that had been used as a turnaround. That site is on Paradis’ land.
“We have been striving to find out who owns the cemetery, and we have not been able to,” Paradis said.
Moore said he is continuing to research the West family in an attempt to get more information about who is responsible for the cemetery.
“I talked to Mr. Paradis, and he talked about being willing to do some things, and I asked him about some others,” Moore said. “I think the moving of the fence is what has people most upset.”