There may be some opposition in Pembroke to placing a veterans cemetery on one of two parcels in the town, according to Bill Joyce, the new veterans services administrator for the county.
Joyce raised the issue with the Public Service Committee today during his first departmental review with the Genesee County Legislature.
He said the Town of Pembroke Planning Board may have some members concerned about taking farm land off the tax roles.
Pembroke Town Supervisor Ed Mileham confirmed this evening that he thinks there may be some opposition to converting farmland to a veterans cemetery, but said the issue hasn't come before the planning board yet.
"There's no doubt in my mind there could be some opposition because Pembroke is a farming community and they like their farm atmosphere here," Mileham said.
There's also likely to be support for the project because it will benefit the community, Mileham said.
"It would be something no other community got and we would be fortunate to get it," Mileham said. "Would we have to give something up, would we give up some tax dollars for it? Sure, but it's something a lot of communities would want to have and we've got good spots right here."
The advantages for Pembroke, Mileham said is attractive properties, close proximity to Buffalo and Rochester and easy access to the Thruway.
These are points in Pembroke's favor that Joyce, a Pembroke resident, also made and said the two locations in Pembroke under consideration make more sense than the location on the short list in Erie County, which is an industrial area.
"To me, not just because it's Genesee County, a veterans cemetary should be peaceful and serene," Joyce said.
Added Legislator Mary Pat Hancock, "and the locations I've seen are just gorgeous."
Mileham said the two locations in Pembroke under consideration by the Veterans Administration are at Indian Falls Road and Route 77, about 135 acres, and a similar-sized location at the end of Cleveland Road.
About 50 or 60 acres of farmland would be taken out of production for the project, Mileham said.
The supervisor said the indications he's received from officials with the VA working out of Bath -- currently the closest vets cemetery to Buffalo and Rochester -- are that Indian Falls and Route 77 is a favored location.
County Manager Jay Gsell told legislators that the short list of sites has changed a couple of times as the VA came across unwilling sellers, inappropriate locations or environmental issues. Site planning experts with the VA have reduced the list now to these three possible locations.
It will take willing sellers at any one of the three locations to move the project forward.
As it is, construction is at least two-and-a-half years away.