Schumer Pushes For Acquisition Of Pembroke Land For Western New York Veterans Cemetery

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, is calling on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to complete final acquisitions for two 60-acre and 77-acre parcels in Pembroke, New York, and act to begin construction of the New Western New York National Veterans Cemetery.

Currently, the Veterans Administration parcel is 132 acres devoted to a veterans cemetery. The acquisitions of the two new parcels would effectively double the size of the cemetery and would clear the way for construction of a new Veterans’ Cemetery in Genesee County, which will be the first and only of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area and save thousands of military families from having to travel more than 100 miles to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest veteran’s cemetery in Bath, N.Y. Schumer said it is vital the VA complete these acquisitions and commit to begin the cemetery’s construction this year.

“The acquisition of these two land parcels clears the way for the construction of the newest Veterans’ Cemetery in Pembroke. Making this cemetery a reality has been and remains one of my top priorities, and I will keep fighting to ensure that this project comes to fruition,” said Senator Schumer. “It is now time for the VA to do its part to clear these final roadblocks so we can move to the construction phase ASAP; this cemetery’s construction guarantees Western New York’s military veterans will have the proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families, and the very communities they dedicated their lives to defend and serve.”

Schumer said the new cemetery design calls for the main entrance to be built through this 60-acre parcel of land so that veterans, their families and cemetery visitors can access the cemetery from Indian Falls Road, rather than via the busy State Route 77 corridor. Schumer said both parcels are located adjacent to the existing 132-acre cemetery site were purchased by the VA in 2014. The VA had advised last year that before the VA’s could acquire these two parcels needed to begin the cemetery’s construction, a buried gas line that traversed the 60 acre and 77 acre parcels needed to be plugged and then relocated. With this gas line work completed in December 2017, Schumer said it is time for the VA to finalize these acquisitions so that cemetery construction can begin this year. Schumer added the 60-acre parcel and 77-acre parcel will greatly expand the cemetery’s operational life and enable the VA to construct a cemetery more aligned with the Department’s initial vision for a 200-acre site. Per the timeline provided by the VA to Schumer’s office in June 2017the VA aimed to begin construction approximately six months after purchase of the 60 and 77-acre parcels, followed by the opening of the early turnover area for burials a year later in 2019.

The 132- acre site on Indian Falls Road in Pembroke is located 30 miles from Buffalo and 48 miles from Rochester. The cemetery will provide a burial option to 96,000 veterans and family members living in Western New York. Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouses and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents. Burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker.