EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 1, 2013

Vandals damage dead boy's memorial

Latest park damage is granite bench tossed into pond


“I walked in one day and asked for a green color paint to use on city park benches and they called it ‘park and recreation green,’” LaBrode said.

“I sand them down, prime them and top coat them,” he said about the wood slats of the benches he refurbishes. “The key is to prepare the wood for installation or else it won’t last long.”

He got help in refurbishing benches from his friend Mark Fairbrother, who expressed disbelief when LaBrode told him about the recent damages.

“It’s disappointing to say the least,” Fairbrother said. “Unfortunately, this is the kind of activity that the city must constantly keep in mind when planning any installations in public spaces. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that the effort and good work that folks like Dave continue to pour into such projects will prevail in improving many areas of our city.”

LaBrode said he is waiting for the Highway Department to send someone to pull Thurlo’s bench out of the water.

“Somebody spent money to buy this memorial bench and now who is going to pay to replace it?” LaBrode said.

He said he also wonders who will repair or replace memorial benches purchased by citizens in memory of a loved one should those benches become the target of vandals.

In the meantime, LaBrode was able to get the two wooden benches back into their original spots.

“This is the sixth time this year that I had to relocate one of the benches back to where they were originally placed, but the first time someone had move one into the pond,” LaBrode said, adding that on the spot where the bench had originally been placed he found two broken Bud Light beer bottles.

LaBrode guesses it would have taken at least two people to move the two wooden benches with heavy concrete legs and arms and that when he finds this kind of vandalism he works fast to correct the situation.

“You have to react quickly when things go wrong to show these people the city is not going to let the damages linger,” he said.

LaBrode said he can’t imagine why anyone would want to damage a park bench.

“Whoever it was, they obviously have no respect for anything,” he said. “If they can do this, what’s it going to escalate to?

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