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Farmingdale compromises over teen's memorial pole

The tussle in Farmingdale Village over "Kaitlyn's Pole" - a roadside memorial to a teenager killed last year in a car accident - has ended with a compromise.

Farmingdale will use a $2,000 donation to pay for a bench in honor of Kaitlyn Krokowski, 19, who was killed in January 2009 in a car accident.

A utility pole at the intersection of Main Street and Grant Avenue, where Krokowski died, has become "Kaitlyn's Pole," a memorial with flowers, stuffed animals and cards that's maintained by her friends and family.

Earlier this year, the village said it wanted to take down the memorial and repaint the pole, in response to complaints. But Kaitlyn's mother protested, saying nothing could replace the pole as a memorial.

Now, "Kaitlyn's Pole" will remain in downsized form and a bench and accompanying plaque will be placed near Main Street.

"Of course, that means a lot to a grieving parent," said Tina Krokowski, Kaitlyn's mother. "It will never take the place of the pole, but nothing can take the place of my daughter."

Stories about the dispute caught the eye of Phil Fortuna, a Northport resident and the owner of Long Island Checker Cab. Fortuna contacted Farmingdale village and offered to help.

Fortuna said he noticed Kaitlyn Krokowski died on the same date - Jan. 19 - as his birthday.

"I didn't think twice when I heard they were looking to raise the money," Fortuna said. "I felt that with one phone call, I could solve this problem, and it was the right thing to do."

The village has ordered the bench and expects it to arrive in six weeks, administrator Brian Harty said. "The intent now is to get it as close to the pole as possible," Harty said.

Once it's ready, Krokowski said she'll have her daughter's friends remove many of the items the pole has collected over the last 18 months. She'll also hold a ceremony for the bench and plans to invite Fortuna, whom she's never met.

"It was very generous of Mr. Fortuna," she said. "It's a beautiful tribute."

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