By David Hennessy Greenwich Time
An enduring symbol of a town resident who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a Pomerance Park memorial bench now sits wrapped in yellow caution tape and missing some of its wooden slats, an apparent victim of vandalism.
The bench, which faces a small pond in the Cos Cob Park off Orchard Street, features a plaque that reads, “In loving memory. Joe Lenihan. 9-11-01. He loved coming here with his family. Some people come into our lives, touch our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” Lenihan worked as an executive vice president for a financial services company on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center’s south tower when terrorists attacked the buildings.
Lt. Kraig Gray, Greenwich Police spokesman, said Monday that the police department is aware of the damage and is considering it a vandalism. Part of the bench’s backing was removed some time over the last few weeks.
Police officers searched the area, but were unable to find the missing piece of bench, Gray said.
Lenihan’s wife Ingrid Lenihan, whose family donated the bench to the town, said Monday the family did not know of the incident until they were alerted by Greenwich Time.
The town’s Parks and Recreation Department is aware of the damage, she said.
“They already have a work order in to fix it, and it’s going to be repaired,” she said.
When the bench was being installed, town officials said public property can sometimes be subjected to vandalism, such as youths carving out their initials, she said.
“They kind of warned me,” she said. “They said don’t be alarmed if something like this happens. I kind of have to look at it that way, or it’ll break my heart.”
Calls left with the Parks and Recreation department were not returned Monday.
Cos Cob resident and blogger Krystle O’Connor said her mother and sister were walking in the park Thursday when they discovered that a chunk of the bench’s backrest was gone, and yellow caution tape had been draped over it.
“We go there almost every day, so I’m sure it wasn’t like that for long,” O’Connor said, adding that she doesn’t know who put the caution tape up.
“It was very precise looking,” she said of the damage. “It was strange.”
In the months prior to the incident, there had been a chip in the bench in the area that was damaged, she said.
“We were upset just with that,” she said.
In her blog, O’Connor said her mother labeled the perpetrator a “hideous beast.”
“It is so disgusting that someone would do such a thing,” O’Connor wrote. “What a sick person.”
O’Connor called on the person or persons who committed the act to come forward.
“It takes just one person to let the proper people know who’s responsible for such a disgusting act, and it would clear his or her conscience,” she wrote.