Vale Cemetery of Schenectady, New York, was recently given the American Cemetery Excellence Award (ACE Award) as presented by American Cemetery and Cremation magazine. While the magazine calls it the ACE Award, I like to just refer to it as the “Cemetery of the Year” award because the magazine awards only one cemetery annually.
According to Patti Martin Bartsche, managing editor for American Cemetery and Cremation magazine, “There is certainly a lot of wonderful history to be explored in a cemetery, and it can also be a great place to just go and enjoy nature and clear your mind in the middle of a city.”
Bartsche goes on to comment in this article, “Vale has been creative in finding solutions to obstacles, responsible in identifying new revenue streams, forward thinking in serving families and responsive to the needs of the community.” She then continues, “They are very proud of their cemetery, and they’re not about to let their problems define them. They just go to work looking for solutions to make it the best it can be.”
It’s uplifting to hear those great comments about the positive momentum of a cemetery. So many times in the past couple of years Funeral Director Daily has written articles about cemeteries on the verge of collapse because of lack of use, lack of care, lack of resources, and lack of ingenuity.
According to the article, Vale Cemetery and Vale Park, which is a 35 acre section of land just west of the cemetery, have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery offers green burial options and also the ability for the deceased to be buried with a pet.
Founded in 1857 the cemetery plays a role in the community with, according to the article, one interesting event in that a 15K annual run with over 1,000 runners winds through the cemetery. As Schenectady City Historian Chris Leonard is quoted in the article, “It is so much more than a cemetery. It’s a sanctuary in the middle of a major city, a wildlife refuge, a Level 1 arboretum, an urban farm, a place for running, biking, bird-watching and quiet contemplation.”
Finally, the cemetery stepped up in this year of COVID-19 and made sure it was a safe sanctuary for people who wanted to get out and social distance in the outdoors. According to board member Gordon Zuckerman, “We’ve tried to make it safer by putting up more lights and cameras. When the parks were closed because of COVID, people could come here and stroll with their baby carriages and enjoy the nature, the outdoors, our urban garden and feel safe. We are open to the community, and people recognize that.”
Congratulations to Vale Cemetery on your 2020 ACE Award!! Let’s hope that your hard work and passion for your cemetery and community can inspire other cemeteries to that same effort.
Cemetery related — Here is a recent article that I found on Japanese burials and their costs. While the article does not say, statistics tell us that about 99.97% of Japanese citizens are cremated, so I assume the grave lots and costs associated with such in this article deal with “cremation” graves. Also, the current exchange rate of the Yen is about 1 cent on the American dollar, so individual “graves” sell for approximately $17,000 according to the prices mentioned in the article.
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