Teaneck Burial Site Saved

 

A historic Teaneck burial ground was saved from being developed when the Meadowlands Conservation Trust agreed to assist the Township of Teaneck and a citizens’ group in buying a 76- by 200-foot lot on Pomander Walk that holds the remains of slaves, Native Americans and early Dutch settlers.

 

“This is a wonderful tract of land that is rich in history and important, not only for the cemetery but because it is contiguous to the Hackensack River,” said Tina Schvejda, executive director of the Meadowlands Conservation Trust. Schvejda said the Trust was inspired by the efforts of the township and the Coalition for the Preservation of Teaneck’s Indian/Slave Cemetery to save the burial ground. The lot was used as a cemetery at least as far back as the 1700s, according to local historians.

 

The trust has committed to $100,000 to help purchase the property and will hold a conservation easement on the property once a deal is finalized. The property’s owner had asked for $412,500 for the property and had intentions of building a single-family home on the site. The township had pledged to bond as much as $325,000 for the land and related legal costs and had agreed to bond the entire cost and be reimbursed by the conservation trust. The Coalition for the Preservation of Teaneck’s Indian/Slave Cemetery had raised about $23,600, which will be used for the property’s upkeep.

 

The coalition formed after Pomander Walk resident Dee Ann Ipp, a long-time Hackensack Riverkeeper supporter, began raising awareness about the burial ground and impending development last fall. The coalition began fund raising in late December after the township announced its pledge.

 

The burial ground was once part of a 125-acre farm owned by the Zabriskies, one of the region’s first families. The cemetery appeared in a 1936 Bergen County atlas and was on the township’s tax rolls until 1958. The majority of the farm was subdivided and developed in the early 1960s. It is not known why the burial ground disappeared from the tax records.

 

Coalition members hope that the burial ground will be made into an educational area and passive park.

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