(Tribune News Service) — Seven months after the formal establishment of the first New York state veterans cemetery in Seneca County, the state has learned it will receive over $1 million more for the site than originally planned.

The total grant awarded by the National Cemetery Administration, an agency within the Department of Veterans Affairs, is $3.9 million. It increased from $2.8 million after a design and planning process involving federal, state and local agencies.

The federal funds will support the addition of a columbarium for interring cremated remains, a maintenance building, maintenance yard and other infrastructure improvements.

“The establishment of this cemetery is a proud achievement of my administration, and I am thankful for my partners who have made this possible,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “This federal funding will ensure the cemetery is maintained to the highest standards as it so rightfully should.”

The New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes, formerly known as Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery, is in the town of Romulus. The cemetery opened in 2011 and was operated by Seneca County.

A years-long effort sought to establish the first state veterans cemetery at the 162-acre site, which is on land that was part of the former Sampson Air Force Base and Sampson Naval Training Station.

In 2020, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo included a proposed state veterans cemetery in his State of the State agenda. A site selection committee was tasked with choosing the location for the cemetery.

The state Department of Veterans’ Services issued a report that recommended the Sampson cemetery for the designation. The committee voted in May 2021 to establish the first state veterans cemetery in Seneca County.

Ownership of the cemetery changed hands in February, with the county transferring it to the state. It was renamed the New York State Veterans Cemetery-Finger Lakes.

The grant awarded to New York is one of 51 announced by the National Cemetery Administration. The agency is providing more than $51 million to state veteran cemeteries.

“It’s truly honorable to see the hard work of so many continued,” said Michael Enslow, chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors. “This funding will ensure that we are able to carry on the recognition of those veterans that have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

(c)2023 The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

An aerial view shows the Western New York National Cemetery.

An aerial view shows the Western New York National Cemetery. (Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration)

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