By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — Some items — including newly planted trees and a monkey statue — were taken over a period of a few weeks from a memorial garden in the town.
Quartz stone was also removed from the Maria Sciocchetti Memorial Garden, a family-made memorial to honor Maria, a Shenendehowa graduate and local architect who died in 2015 at age 48.
The memorial is in Garnsey Park off Route 146 in Clifton Park.
Dino Sciocchetti, Maria’s brother, said the theft is particularly devastating because the memorial serves as the only way for he and his family to visit his sister, who was cremated. Going to the memorial for picnics with his young children, Sciocchetti said, has become the substitute for visiting Maria at home.
“It’s disheartening,” he said Wednesday. “That’s where we go.”
Maria, Sciocchetti said, loved gardening, and the family wanted to create something to commemorate her using her passion after she died. The family originally considered putting the memorial on their own property, but ultimately decided to ask the Town Board for permission to build the memorial in the park in 2015. Since then, the Sciocchetti family has been maintaining the space and replanting trees there when they die.
Sciocchetti noted that whoever took the objects, particularly the trees, was focused on covering their tracks. The person, he said, dug up the small trees that were taken and then refilled those holes and replaced any stones that were disturbed.
Since the thefts, the family has chained down the benches at the memorial, and they are trying to find a way to make sure the trees can’t be removed. He added that there is a red maple tree at the memorial now that will be replaced soon, and he still hasn’t figured out how to secure the new tree.
Every piece of the memorial, Sciocchetti said, was donated by friends and family, and they have all been working together tirelessly for the past two years to maintain the site.
“It’s just a lot of dedicated time every day,” he said. “I don’t want to keep furnishing someone’s back yard.”
Though a report was not filed with state police, the family filed one with the town. Spokesman Matt Andrus said the town will follow up on any leads.