NEWARK — A mural created by student and adult volunteers depicting scenes of Newark’s past was damaged by a vandal or vandals Friday evening.

The mural under the South Main Street (Route 88 bridge) was recently completed by Newark High School students, as well as members of Mural Mania, led by Mark DeCracker of Lyons.

The second phase of the mural project — begun in 2018 — had been up for only a short time when someone with a sharp object ripped out some of the fabric artwork, which had been created at Newark High School by students and then affixed to the bridge abutment earlier this summer.

It was a continuation of the mural that was painted on the abutment last summer, DeCracker said.

Painting on fabric allowed students to do the work at school, as opposed to on-site, he said.

“It’s not right,” DeCracker said. “We’re trying to encourage tourism on the canal and we run into this.”

DeCracker said he’s been asking the village if it could add some lighting down by the mural for both aesthetic and security reasons. He also believes the area needs more security cameras.

Newark Mayor Jonathan Taylor said the village is working with the state Canal Corporation concerning lighting under the bridge, but emphasized that it can’t do so without the agency’s permission.

DeCracker said it’s hard to get inside the head of a person who would vandalize public art.

“It’s almost like they (perpetrators) are trying to get recognized through devious things,” he said.

Newark School Superintendent Matt Cook said he was “very disappointed that someone would deface the hard work that our students put into bringing beauty to the revitalized canal area here in Newark.”

Added Taylor: “The mural has been a source of great pride in our community and a wonderful addition to our canal park. We are very discouraged that someone would choose to damage all the hard work by our students.”

Newark Police Chief Mark Thoms said investigators have no suspects and are reviewing surveillance camera footage to see if anyone can be identified.

“We can’t be everywhere all the time,” said Thoms. “A lot of people see things and don’t report it. We’re looking for anybody who may have seen something or somebody to give us a shout.”

Anyone who may have information is asked to call Newark police at (315) 331-3701.

While expressing frustration and disappointment, DeCracker is not deterred.

“We’re not giving up,” he said. “The good has to win in the long-run, and we have plans for other ones.”

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