HAVERHILL — There’s no telling if vandals took time to read the inscription on a granite bench they tossed into Round Pond, breaking off one of its legs.
Did they realize it was dedicated in memory of a 10-year-old boy who attended school just around the corner from the pond, or that he died when he was in the fifth-grade? Maybe they weren’t around in May 2000 when former Pentucket Lake School student Justin Thurlo was killed in an accident in Kingston, N.H., where his family had moved a few months prior.
More than a year after the death, the city’s Trails Committee dedicated the bench in Thurlo’s memory and placed it along the Lawrence Street side of Round Pond in the Alfred DiBartolomeo Memorial Park, which is named in memory of a city public works official.
Last Friday, Haverhill Brightside organization volunteer David LaBrode was checking on the park’s two wooden benches, which he’d refurbished with help from a friend, when he noticed things were out of place. The granite bench bearing Thurlo’s name was missing and the two wooden benches had been moved. LaBrode found the granite bench in the water, upside down and with one leg broken off. One of the wooden benches had been moved about 100 feet and the other was sitting in the water undamaged.
LaBrode was angry and could not imagine why vandals would target the benches, including the memorial to Thurlo.
“It saddens me to see such flagrant disregard for not only public property, but also for a bench dedicated to a child who died tragically,” he said.
There’s nothing fancy about this little park. There are no swings or other playground equipment, just a few benches at the edge of Round Pond where you can enjoy one of the city’s most scenic spots.