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Effort To Open Hart Island to Public Gets Boost From Lawsuit

Hart Island, the notoriously difficult-to-access potters field in the Bronx, may soon avail itself to visitors. Family members of the deceased have been appealing the city for years about transferring jurisdiction of the island from the Department of Corrections to the Parks Department, which would open the small swath of land near Curbed Cup contender City Island to visitors via ferry. The Bronx Times reports that momentum around making the island accessible to the public is building, which has been spawned in part by a federal lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union that is seeking more access to the burial grounds "based on the belief that the city's policy limiting visitors violates constitutional rights of due process and religious exercise," as well as by advocacy group Hart Island Project's new GPS system that would help visitors identify over 62,200 unmarked graves on the island via smartphone.

The island is still an active potters field tilled by DOC inmates. The Bronx Times reports that the City Island Civic Association supports the legislation, as do all but one of the members of the Bronx's city council delegation. "We have been sympathetic to the humanitarian arguments allowing fundamental fairness in having people visiting their dead loved ones," CICA corresponding secretary John Doyle told the Bronx Times, "opening Hart Island hurts no one, and provides a level of comfort and closure to a large group of people."
· Hart Island lawsuit calls for more public access as advocacy continues on multiple fronts [Bronx Times]
· Bronx's Hart Island, Long A Burial Ground, Could Be A Park [Curbed]
· All Hart Island coverage [Curbed]