NEWINGTON – Town officials are hoping to make an example out of the criminal who caused costly fire damage in Mill Pond Park over the summer.
Anyone who can provide information that leads to an arrest in an Aug. 25 incident of reported arson will be offered a financial reward by the town.
“We as a town want to show the public that we’re serious about vandalism,” Newington Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill DeMaio said Monday.
“We are going to actively pursue these vandals and restitution.”
The fire was reported around 3:40 a.m. by a resident who lives near the park. They heard a crackling noise and subsequently caught sight of the park’s concession stand ablaze. Newington Volunteer Fire Department responded, extinguishing two separate fires at the scene. One began in a portable bathroom next to the stand and spread to the structure. The other engulfed a second portable toilet about 100 yards away. Police and parks staff assessed the damage the following day, determining that repairs would cost over $100,000. Mill Pond Park is a popular summer hangout for local residents. The damage to the bathroom facilities dampened the end of the season, according to parks staff.
“You try to provide a great resource and it gets taken away,” DeMaio pointed out. “People who go to the playground or pool use those facilities, as well as kids participating in soccer, baseball or tennis in the park. We want to use our resources wisely and in a positive way, instead of spending taxpayers’ good money on fixing vandalized materials.” The building is still in the process of being rebuilt, he added. The town also plans to replace equipment inside lost in the fire, including a popcorn machine, pretzel maker and ice machine.
“We’re trying to move forward quickly and get it ready for the springtime.” The incident occurred near the north entrance of Mill Pond Park on Garfield Street, across from Newington Town Hall. Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Brendan LaChance at 860-594-6207 or firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing case number 1700018014.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or email@example.com.