Reporting Michael Rosenfield
NEW IPSWICH, NH (CBS) – Kathy Hakala has so many relatives buried in the Smithville Cemetery in New Ipswich, New Hampshire that she has lost count.
And now she has learned that some of her loved ones may have to be dug up and buried elsewhere.
“I’m not sure where they would move them,” Hakala wonders.
Stakes mark an area of the cemetery now in question.
WBZ-TV has obtained a letter sent by New Hampshire’s Department of Environmental Services to town officials in New Ipswich, alerting them that the “cemetery…has been expanded onto state-owned land…”
The state claims the land is needed to place heavy equipment in case fixes ever need to be made to the nearby dam.
“It’s clear that there are people buried on land owned by the DES,” said DES spokesperson Jim Martin.
Up to 80 graves may have to be moved.
“It would be a tremendous amount of work,” says Oliver Niemi , the town’s sexton.
He hopes a different piece of property can be found to placate the state before things get out of hand.
“I think there would be such an uproar,” says Nieimi.
State officials say the graves were noticed when surveyors were looking at a new ball field.
Town officials are now researching old documents to figure out who actually owns the land in question.
Niemi believes the state gave it to the town as far back as the 1980′s, and the town is wondering why the state never noticed the expanded graveyard before.
As for Hakala, she and her husband have already bought and paid for two plots, both of which are in the area in question.
“Where would they move them for one thing?” asks Hakala. “And who would cover the cost of all that…that would be very hard.”