WALLINGFORD — When neighbors started a movement to revitalize Kendrick Park last year, a group of Wallingford natives also came together to start “Megan’s Walk” to honor their childhood friend, Megan Lee McAuliffe.
The Kendrick Park Project is raising funds and working to restore the little-known park and bring in new playground equipment.
On Saturday, the group held an event at PNA Park to raise money to build a 60-foot-long brick walkway at the entrance of Kendrick Park in honor of McAuliffe, a town native who moved to Branford with her husband, Vincent Mauro. McAuliffe died in a car accident in Branford on Aug. 18, 2013, after Mauro lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. She was 28. Mauro was charged with second-degree manslaughter and driving while intoxicated and has pleaded not guilty.
“This is about her life and celebrating her,” said Ali Jones, a close friend of McAuliffe’s and member of the Kendrick Park Project.
Growing up, McAuliffe lived near Kendrick Park, which is between South Elm and South Main streets and accessed from the cul-de-sac on Grandview Avenue. She spent a lot of time playing with her friends at the park, according to Jones.
McAuliffe graduated from Lyman Hall High School in 2002 and received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, with a focus in juvenile and family services, from the University of New Haven. During the holidays, McAuliffe volunteered at homeless shelters. She had aspirations to start a nonprofit organization or day-care center.
“She was a giving person,” Jones said. “She loved everyone and you knew it. She wanted everyone to get along and love each other.”
Stephanie Chapparo said McAuliffe was a “great friend.”
“She was genuinely a true person,” she said.
While McAuliffe had dreams to help children, she also had plans to be a mother, Gina Mazziotti said.
“She wanted children,” Mazziotti said. “This (walkway) puts her here together with children forever.”
The organizers of Megan’s Walk and the Kendrick Park Project committee, met with various town officials, including Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., and eventually received approval to build a walkway. The walkway will be built with bricks — some of which will be engraved with text or art. The beginning of the walkway will feature a set of bricks that come together to form “Megan’s Walk.”
Kim Signore, also of the Kendrick Park Project and a friend of McAuliffe’s, said the group is still working with a contractor to determine the cost of the walkway. The goal is to finish it by August, in time for McAuliffe’s 30th birthday.
McAuliffe’s parents, Jean and Dennis McAuliffe, could not be reached for comment Friday, but Jones said the family appreciated and is honored the community is coming together.
“They’re very much looking forward to go somewhere other than the cemetery to honor and remember her,” she said.