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The Riverdale Cemetery mausoleum roof is leaking

A widow wants to know when the roof will be fixed, but the cemetery board says it doesn't have the money for repairs.

LEWISTON, N.Y. — From her dining room table, with a wide smile on her face, Sandy Masterson talked about her late husband, Brian.

“Bigger than life, absolutely. Irish as the day is long.”

They met at a Niagara Falls bar. Sandy beat Brian at a game of pool, and that was the beginning of a love affair that led to a 52-year marriage, which included two daughters and six grandchildren. 

Brian passed away in January.

“He had a lovely funeral. He died during a snowstorm … out in front of the house here, shoveling snow.”

Before his death, the Mastersons had picked-out their final resting places, a mausoleum at Riverdale Cemetery in Lewiston. Sandy’s parents were interred there. So were an aunt and uncle.

“It just seemed like a natural for us,” Sandy said.

But there is a problem at the mausoleum that has lingered for years. The roof leaks.

On a recent visit, 2 On Your Side saw the result first-hand. Hours after the rain had stopped, water was still slowly seeping through the roof over the center room of the mausoleum. The carpeting covering the floor was wet in many places. The wettest carpet section we found was near the crypt for Sandy’s parents.

“It’s right in front of my Mom and Dad. That’s driving me crazy,” Sandy said.

The governing body for the non-profit cemetery, the Riverside Cemetery Board is very familiar with the problem.

“We’ve spent considerable money trying to address the problem permanently, and no fix ever seems to work for more than a year or two,” said board member Whitney Mallam.

What makes the mausoleum roof more difficult to repair is that it is flat and made of cement. Over time, Mallam explains, small cracks in the cement have become larger, making the roof more prone to leak.

Mallam points out his brother’s remains are also in the mausoleum. 

And while the cemetery board would like to address the roof issue once and for all, there’s no money to do it.

“This place is just about broke,” Mallam said.

An annual report submitted to the state Division of Cemeteries shows Riverdale lost $10,000 in 2017 and closed the year with a little less than $21,000 in ready cash.

Asked how Riverdale will find the money to make roof repairs, Mallam responded, “Good question. That’s what we’ve got to try and figure out.”

The cemetery board is reaching out to the town of Lewiston to see what assistance it might be able to provide.

Town supervisor Steve Broderick is sympathetic to the cemetery’s plight and willing to help assist with some services such as plowing, but he added, “We’re not comfortable with any kind of financial help.”

Without the money or a solid plan to fix the leaking roof, Sandy Masterson wonders about the future of the structure where so many of her loved ones are.  

“What are you gonna do if the building starts falling apart? You’re going to move all these graves to where?” Masterson said. “That building’s gotta be fixed.” 

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