Fields of dedication

Naugatuck Park Commission honors residents

Rob Bendler speaks during a May 3 ceremony dedicating the Fawn Meadow Field in Naugatuck to his father, the late Paul Bendler Sr. The Parks Commission dedicated the field and will dedicate two more fields this month to former mayors Joan Taf and the late Robert Paolino. –CONTRIBUTED

Rob Bendler speaks during a May 3 ceremony dedicating the Fawn Meadow Field in Naugatuck to his father, the late Paul Bendler Sr. The Parks Commission dedicated the field and will dedicate two more fields this month to former mayors Joan Taf and the late Robert Paolino. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The Park Commission is recognizing three prominent Naugatuck residents by dedicating fields in their honor.

Former President of the Union City Little League Paul Bendler Sr., who has passed away, and former mayors Joan Taf and the late Robert Paolino have been chosen for the honors.

Bendler was honored Saturday as officials dedicated the Fawn Meadow Field, which is located off of Fawn Meadow Road, to him.

“We felt it was the right thing to do since he put in so many years of volunteering for the Union City Little League,” Park Commission Chairman Jay Kuczenski said.

Rob Bendler, Paul Bendler’s son, said his father worked with the little league for 30 years, not only serving as the president but also maintaining the grounds, cleaning the fields and ensuring everything was ready each year.

“Whatever it took to take care of the little league he did it,” Paul Bendler said.

Paul Bendler said his family was honored that the borough chose to dedicate the field to his father.

“It meant the world to us that they remember all the hard work and what he did for all the children in the town,” Bendler said. “We were on top of the world.”

The field at Linden Park will be dedicated to Taf during a ceremony this Saturday at 11 a.m.

Kuczenski said the commission wants to acknowledge Taf for all the work she did while \ mayor at the park, including obtaining grant money to help extend the activities the park offered.

Taf, who served as mayor from 1999 to 2003, also helped put in the soccer fields, the skate park and the river walk that leads to the park.

“We did a lot in town, but that was one of the things I was very proud of,” Taf said.

While she put a lot into the park during her time as mayor, Taf’s history with the park goes back even further.

“I always loved that park because I lived in Union City. I lived on School Street for 10 years,” Taf said. “I always went there when it was first there in the ‘50s. I was dating my husband then. There was a big pavilion in Linden where they had polka dances.”

Taf said to have a dedication at a park she has had so much history with means a lot.

“I was very proud when I heard this. It brought tears to my eyes,” Taf said. “We have a lovely town here. I’ve always loved Naugatuck.”

Paolino will have the meadow at Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve, located off of Gunntown Road, dedicated to him at 11 a.m. on May 17.

Paolino, who served as mayor from 1991 to 1995, helped the borough acquire the land that would ultimately become the nature preserve, Kuczenski said.

Each field will be marked with a granite sign indicating who the park is dedicated to, Kuczenski said.

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