7 On Your Side helps grieving Long Island family with park memorial bench

WANTAGH, Long Island (WABC) -- It was supposed to be a lasting tribute to a mom and grandmother, a memorial bench in a favorite park to reflect and remember her love. But the Long Island family was left wondering what happened to their tribute and their money when the bench wasn't installed as promised last spring.

"My mom took my brother, my sister and myself here when we were little, then she took her grandchildren here," Laurie Harrington said.

It was the spot her mom, Nettie Reynolds, loved most, overlooking the water in front of the gazebo at Wantagh State Park.

Harrington bought the memorial bench for her late mom last September though the Nassau County Parks program. The check for $2,845 included an inscribed plaque and installation.

"I was so excited," she said. "They spray painted by initials here and told me the bench would be installed in spring 2018. I picked out the spot in December 4, 2017. Here we are in July, and there's no bench."

When she questioned the delay, she said she got nothing but excuses. Then a few weeks ago, she made a surprising discovery. Next to an old tire, she saw her mom's bench -- along with three other families' benches in a county maintenance yard.

"Oh my gosh, it breaks my heart to see my mom's name with broken picnic tables and traffic signs," she said.

So she called the park department again.

"And I have to be patient, he's on my side," she said. "And I told him, 'Sorry, 7 will be on my side.'"

We sent the photos of the benches to parks commissioner Eileen Krieb, and within a week, the bench was installed in the place her family and others will always enjoy.

"I'm so happy and I'm so grateful, because it wouldn't be here without 7 On Your Side," she said. "All she wanted was her children and grandchildren to be happy. Thank you so much for giving my family such a wonderful gift. I'm so appreciative."

Krieb issued the following statement:

The important bench program was implemented and overseen by a prior administration. Nassau County parks apologizes if any delay created an undo hardship on any person or family. We fully intend to honor all requests that have been received. The program has been suspended and will be reevaluated and managed in a timely fashion.


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