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Matt Kent Memorial Appears Inside Clark Reservoir, Mayor Says It Will Be Removed

The spray-painted memorial featuring Kent's name can be seen from Madison Hill Road.

Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso says a spray-painted Matt Kent memorial inside the Clark Reservoir near Madison Hill Road will be removed.

The large painting which reads "RIP Matt Kent" appeared on Wednesday, about a week afterClark Police are awaiting autopsy results to announce the cause of death.

"I'm sorry for the family of Matt Kent and it's very sad to see a man so young in life go down this path," said Bonaccorso, "but this painting is defacing private property and will be removed."

Bonaccorso says the painting appears on a pumper station that is still owned by the Middlesex Water Company inside the the Clark Wildlife Preserve section of the reservoir's Robinson branch. The reservoir itself is Union County property. The painting can be seen by drivers and passersby outside the reservoir on Madison Hill Road.

"They Middlesex Water Company called us to find out what this was about and will be painting over it," Bonaccorso told Patch. "It is very pretty artwork, but this is not an appropriate place for it."

Bonaccorso added that police have a good idea who created the painting and that those involved could be fined.

As to how Kent died and whether there is a prescription pill problem in Clark, Bonaccorso says the problem is statewide and calls it "an epidemic that keeps festering." Bonaccorso says that Clark Police are cognizant of the widespread abuse of pills and other narcotics and are on top of the problem.

Friends say Kent was "a genuinely good kid who was one of a kind and just got on the wrong track." Kent's friends also say he loved nature and the outdoors, perhaps suggesting why the painting was done inside the Clark Wildlife Preserve section of the reservoir.

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Clark local June 01, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Mr bonacorso is the worst mayor. Are you kidding me right now. This art work is a memorial and telling a story to kids everywhere what can happen. I bet if it was someone close to you then you would let it stay. Matthew kent was such an amazing kid and that's what he needs to be remembered as. He had such an amazing heart and just loved life in general. But this memorial should not be taken down. It is so rude to think the own town mayor will not stick up for this. Mr bonacorso you are a disgrace. We love you Matt!
mrs. riley June 01, 2012 at 02:21 PM
so sorry for the loss of this boy........words cannot describe a devastating loss like this. Drugs are rampant in Clark...but of course, hush , hush....do not kid yourself, if we don't crack down, this story will be repeated again....the memorial does not belong there...that is private property...if they want to do something, I am sure his family can come up with something. this has nothing to do with Sal....I am sure Clark local does not pay property taxes yet...lol but anyway.....rip matt
JayJay June 01, 2012 at 02:40 PM
This is classic Broken Window Theory. One will encourage more. And being that it's private property, the mayor has no authority to force a private landowner to maintain what is technically vandalism.
Clark local June 01, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I'm sorry people but honestly who is this hurting? No one..but it's a free country so I will let u people say what you want, but Matt knows who truly appreciated his name being there with honor
mrs. riley June 01, 2012 at 03:11 PM
This is not Newark...we just don't tag names on open walls....yes, it is vandalism.
KJS June 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
No matter how you paint it (no pun intended) graffiti is graffiti. It should be removed immediately like all other graffiti. If the individuals like it so much do it on your own property.
John June 01, 2012 at 04:32 PM
The passing of young Matthew was a tragic and uneccessary loss, the same as our son Chris Pastor back in Nov.2010. I am sure Matt's friends and family are grieving in a way only families in this position can begin to understand. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't miss Chris. That will never change. To Matt's friends: I am sure you will miss Matt for years to come and are saddened by the reasons why he was taken from you. However this is not an excuse to deface private property (no matter how pretty the artwork) in his memory. If you want some good to come out of the deaths of these young men, apply your efforts and experiences to a more noble cause. Form a peer mentoring group, do some public speaking engagements to fellow students and/or parents, etc. Instead of bashing the Mayor, use the him and Council and their abilities, as a tool to raise awareness in our community of the rampant use drugs and addiction. You are much more in touch with what is going on with the youth in Clark than the parents are. As a rule, we, as parents, don't find out anything until it's too late to stop it. If we knew then what we know now, Our son, Chris, would have had a much better chance at life. Don't let their deaths become another statistic. Be part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. Otherwise, this won't be the last article you are reading about some tragic loss of life. John and Kathy Woolsey (parents of Chris Pastor)
meyer lansky June 01, 2012 at 05:29 PM
this wasnt done on personal property....it isnt scribble on someones picket fence...or garage...reguardless it was done illegaly....but keeping it up and alive holds a much stronger message than taking it down.... rip matthew kent
mrs. riley June 01, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Then you whould have painted it on your parents house, I am sure they wouldn't mind? they why don't we spray paint whereever we feel like it to sends messages for anyone who has died...How about Harvey the WAR VETERAN....?????? that would be an honor wouldn't it???? No matter how it looks, which is very pretty, this town would NEVER allow graffiti to stay up like that. Clark is not that kind of town, it sends the wrong message of what we think of our properties, not so much to hurt anyone's feelings....that is all us "adults" are saying..... PS: Thanks John for opening up about your personal experience.....NO PARENT should have to live with the anguish of this tragic story...but yes, we can learn and move forward to spread the word to these kids who experiment....and hopefully stop bad judgement before it starts.
meyer lansky June 01, 2012 at 06:08 PM
its not done on anyones house....it would be an honor if some one would paint something with equal caliber for him....its not a message of what we think of our town...its a message for people who are coping with the same issues(which it seems like is happening to this entire town)...its message to get passed down to our youth that this is real....for our future generation to walk pass and know the story...and for them to realize its not fun and games.....its real....
mrs. riley June 01, 2012 at 06:39 PM
ok meyer...I see your point....but living in town for 50+ years...the old crows don't like it
John June 01, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Meyer, I appreciate your dedication and love to Matt as a friend. We all (adults alike) should be so lucky to have a dedicated friend such as yourself. However, what these artists did was broke the law no matter the intention. They tresspassed on private property (note the fence with barbed wire top) and defaced private property. Just because it is owned by the Middlesex Water Authority and not a private citizen of Clark, doesn't mean it's any less important. To me as a parent of a child that passed under less than horable circumstances, this would be aninsult to me, that my childs friends are paying homage to him by breaking the law. No matter how attractive the artwork may be. Better you channel your grief and sorrow by raising money to erect a proper (and legal) memorial, or create some type of program to slow down or even stop the disease of addiction within our youth. Every journey begins with one small step, much like recovery. Tagging a wall on private property and complaining when someone says cover it up, is not a lasting way to pay tribute to your friend and raise awareness about drug abuse. Try doing something more permanent and mature that is befitting your friend, Matt.
Jessica Remo (Editor) June 01, 2012 at 08:29 PM
John - Thanks so much for sharing here. I think of your family often. Best, Jessica
Clark Ex-tended family June 01, 2012 at 11:58 PM
It's a beautiful piece of work and dedicated to a beautiful boy. I am glad people are noticing and probably inquiring about it. Although it will be removed, the artist certainly has opened the door for awareness of the addiction problems that plague so many. Kudos to the artist! Sometimes that's what it takes!
DB June 02, 2012 at 04:50 AM
It shouldnt be taken down, give me one good (know think about this) one good reason plain paint on the wall or the RIP MATT KENT art. Dont matter about middle sex ITS IN CLARK! And if they made one for Harvey or Benish or Pastore MORE POWER TO THAT. this whole town is a joke, they cant have one good thing happen everything is a crime.
KJS June 04, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Do us all a favor and move out..... go find a dump to live in.
J L June 04, 2012 at 11:06 PM
This memorial is so much more than just the typical graffiti seen in low income areas. This picture has a story behind it and a way of getting through to the youth of the town which clearly has issues with drugs. The comments are ridiculous about how graffiti is graffiti and since it’s illegal it should be taken down; no matter the message being sent. It is funny how one comment mentioned Clark isn’t Newark but the new holiday inn on valley road has a sign that says otherwise (take a look at it next time you drive by because the “clark-newark” on the sign relates us more to that town than any memorial will!) This memorial for Matt will only benefit the children in this town, rather than painting over it and to erase the constant reminder that drugs are a huge issue. This town tries so hard to keep up the façade of happy families with no problems, but there are HUGE problems and we need to stop hiding them. Drug abuse has been an issue for certain people in this town and it is a shame that when someone is lost people start taking notice, but by keeping this memorial up it lets everyone know that these issues will not be hidden. How many young people need to be lost until everyone finally realizes we are the problem by sheltering everyone and living the lies that Clark is a perfect little town?
J L June 04, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Over all, the memorial for Matt shows how the younger generations were affected by his loss by trying to create a lasting piece of art to remember him and teach others. (Complete speculation as to who did the memorial but I doubt it was someone over the age of 30). The picture isn’t on anyone’s house and does not hurt anyone so removing it will really be a shame. With that said, the reality is we live in a town that would rather be politically correct than potentially make a positive difference in people’s lives which is why there is no doubt the wall will be painted over, but I think it should be kept until his birthday on Aug 30, at the very least.
mckay21 June 05, 2012 at 12:08 AM
This contemporary artwork memorizing a young local resident is not only beautifully & well done, and would serve as a reminder to all that prescription drugs kill…..Clark should embrace reality with this epidemic of prescription drug abuse and maybe some of the selfish and shallow seniors especially the mayor should move in to the new century....Kinda reminds me of the first time the ol’ folks saw the Vietnam Memorial….Prayers for the family.
John June 05, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Again, I feel a need to chime in here. I agree with both sides of this issue and definitely agree with any sentiment behind the tribute to this tragic loss of life. However, right is right, and wrong is wrong. The artwork is well thought out and tastefully done, however the fact still remains, they tresspassed on private property and defaced this wall. My biggest issue with this is, by leaving this artwork up, we are continuing to teach our youngsters that there are no consequences for their actions. This day and age of "everybody gets a sports trophy" , "no right or wrong answers on tests, just express your feelings", and allowing your children to "experience life" , is ill preparing them for the future. This is one of the many reasons why we are losing our children to drugs, alcohol, jail, etc. There is a definite lack of respect for authority and rules/regulations amongst or youth today. They have been taught that only certain rules are important, but all others are not. Why didn't the artist(s) involved approach the Clark Council or the Clark School District and ask if a memorial mural could be painted somewhere on Township property to memorialize these tragic deaths and raise awareness. NO, instead they chose the easy way out and broke the law by way of tresspass and vandalism. Now that the property owners want to paint over it the artists cries foul. The artwork is beautiful! You just chose the wrong venue for it.
meyer lansky June 07, 2012 at 10:07 AM
its funny how this became a big issue....it is illegal and shouldve never had to be done illegally....but the message it stands for and the lesson itll preach is way more important than the issue of taking it down......its a little ironic how you compare a memorial bein done illegally to not being newark.......but i guarantee if you take statistics....the youth of newark isnt over-dosing or having a problem with prescription drug abuse with the younger generation....for every 10 kids in clark struggling with this issue there may be 2 in nwk.....for every 10 kids fr clark curious and beginning to experiment there may be 1 at the least in nwk....and i say this because i grew up in nwk...and moving into clark and being here for 10+yrs, isay the youth in this town have a far bigger problem with hardcore drug abuse than that of the dangerous city of newark...maybe keeping the memorial up is a message the youth of our town needs..!!
ClarkResident June 16, 2012 at 12:32 AM
It appears this young man was well-known and well liked and my condolences to his family an friends for having to deal with the loss of such a young life far too early. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the artwork is a moot point. The idea and substance behind it is touching and honorable and I love it, but make this young man's memory thrive on in more substantial way. He deserves to be remembered without all the battling back and forth regarding the legalities and the hints toward a "ghetto" look in Clark. I am sure his friends and family have what it takes to make his unfortunate death into something memorable and inspiring; tell his story and make it creative. RIP Matthew Kent.
Ellen Koulouthros June 18, 2012 at 04:44 PM
As are retired educator who has lived in this town for over 21 years, I applaud the beautiful artwork & tribute to Matt Kent. It was tastfully done and gives a strong message to our youth in this town to try and stop abusing prescriptive drugs. It is NOT OFFENSIVE.! Maybe a compromise can be reached. Why not leave it up until August 30th to commemorate Matt's birthday? I frequently walk the loop and am very impressed by the mural. In many towns, you see floweres & stuffed animals placed on public property in front of a telephone pole in memory of an individual who was killed or murdered. Let's work together here. We need to be proactive and try to develop programs to stop the drug abuse in this town. Many children in Clark coming from respectable families are involved in abusing prescriptive drugs. Stop fretting about the beautiful artwork,and let's work as a cohesive community to stop this spread of drup abuse! It's killing our children & families. I'm speaking for the younger generation as a senior citizen myself. LET'S PUT OUR CHILDREN FIRST!! RIP MATT! May God protect your family & friends.
meyer lansky June 18, 2012 at 06:19 PM
hey ellen koulouthros thank you.....that is the point iwas trying to make....this was not only a memorial dedicated to him....but a message to our future generation....when people pass the wall they see....and obviously take notice to the problem....my view was...maybe this town needs something like that to be kept up because not only does it tell his story but it tells the story of the path you choose going down this route....its a message to the younger generation(which we should be concerned about) that catches their eyes wen they see it....and its maybe something this town needs to reach the younger generation of clark...it catches their attention....i was at quick check on westfield ave and twice i overheard people speaking about the memorial....one was a couple of kids no older than 16 and they said they heard stories...BUT IT BROUGHT AWARENESS....and the second was 2 females mayb mid 40s and they spoke about how it would kill them if it was their child and the memorial was an inspiring piece of work done that brings the attention thats needed rather than sweeping it under the rug.....a petition is in the works....and those of you who understand and realize this isnt just a beautiful piece of artwork but a message this town needs we ask you please sign it....its 2012 and kids will not listen to their parents saying "just say no" something as simple as paint on a wall has more affect than words spoke by parents whom theyll just ignore
Chris June 18, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Hey meyer lansky...I, along with may others, are more than happy to sign the petition and I hope that will be the beginning toward a major breakthrough in Clark. I cannot help but wonder if this is going to be a losing battle, however, because of the legal matters and the opinions of many in Clark. "Clark Resident" stated above that creating something within the rules and/or guidelines (despite the fact that I disagree, I also believe that leaving the message up at least until Matt's birthday is fair and should not be such a big deal). Awareness is the most valuable lesson here and I think it should be mandated. I am unsure as to why Clark township does not want to step it up here. Hey Clark Resident, no disrespect intended; I see that you are simply thinking with your heart and want Matt's memory to remain without all the bull, and I thank you for your kindness which appears to be somewhat lacking in this town.. I think meyer lansky wants to point out the bigger picture here, perhaps something you may all be able to assist with.
miss you matt June 21, 2012 at 06:31 AM
I was very close to Matt and his passing was difficult for both myself and my entire family.I knew Matt before he got messed up with all of this.He came from a good family, was very kind hearted, and meant no harm to those around him.His problems became more than he could handle and unfortunately it led him to these circumstances.As someone who has seen the aftermath of his death and its influence on the youth of Clark and neighboring areas, the memorial has been like many previous postings have said, a learning experience.Through his struggles with addiction and even when he was clean Matt became close to many individuals who are both involved and at the source of the drug problem in our area.He has raised awareness of the severity of such drugs while also encouraging those who are in similar positions to seek help.He tried hard to help himself but couldn't get out of this mess. The memorial was done in a tasteful manner but yes I agree the location could have been better chosen.The memorial is a final goodbye for all of us that grew up and cared so much about him.Every time it is passed it is a reminder that things like this could happen to any of us if we continue with our unhealthy habits.The longer it stays up the more time it has its full affects on others and continues to influence them on their path to recovery.A compromise of leaving it up until his birthday causes no harm as it provides us with enough time to fully embrace the message it was intended to send.

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