WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — It was just a few weeks ago when Michael Salvio was beaming with excitement and pride. The community responded to his call to donate money so volunteers in his group, The Historic Overlook Community Club, could buy more than a hundred lilac trees and plants and plant them in Waterbury’s historic Fulton Park. It’s a park that generations of families have come to love, including Michael’s.
“For many of us this is our backyard,” he said. “This is where we grew up….We’re very happy here, we’re restoring the park to its natural beauty.”
Part of that natural beauty is a lilac grove that was part of the original plans for Fulton Park when it opened in the 1920’s. A few weeks ago, at Michael’s urging, more than 100 volunteers from many community groups showed up to restore that lilac grove and make the park radiate with a sea of purple, white and yellow once again.
“It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” Michael said.
That magnificence turned ugly when Michael went to the park yesterday. He noticed empty holes in the ground where ten of those lilac trees and plants once stood. Someone ripped them out of the ground and stole them. They were worth between $20 and $200.
“This was very discouraging,” Michael said. “Very disappointing.”
But, he also says this whole thing is bringing the community closer together. People are banding together to spread the word about what happened in hopes that they can find who did it. People have volunteered to buy more lilacs and help plant them to replace the once that were snatched out of the ground.
Michael says it sends a message about his community and about their love for Fulton Park.
“It’s very discouraging but, we’re encouraged because the Waterbury Police Department detective unit is on the case already and I’ve also received Facebook entries, emails and texts from people already wanting to help us replace these by donations and by planting them, so that’s encouragement,” Michael said. “It actually brought the community even much closer together.”
Michael says he called the mayor and the police chief and all three inspected Fulton Park yesterday and the damage and empty holes the vandals left behind. Michael says there may even be a reward for anyone who comes forward with information that leads to an arrest. He’s pleased to see so many people now working together to try to put an ugly incident behind them.
“We’re in a great partnership with the city,” Michael said. “This is how we get things done.”