FITCHBURG — A mural on Zeda's Pizza building depicting an environmental activist who led cleanup efforts for the Nashua River was vandalized with spray paint.
A tag drawn in a light color can be seen against the blue mural on the back of the 65 Laurel St. restaurant.
"We can address it and fix it," said restaurant owner Alan Wernick. "It's a shame that it happened."
On Thursday, Zeda's Pizza Manager Debbie Maynard informed Wernick of the vandalism. He came to the restaurant to see the damage to the mural.
The tag is located near the ground and next to the face of Marion Stoddart, the activist who helped communities like Fitchburg stop polluting the Nashua River with industrial waste in the 1960s.
The river was designated a Wild and Scenic River earlier this year under legislation filed by former U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, affording it greater environmental protections going forward.
Painted on the other side of the mural are fish found in the river.
"I think that this mural depicts the extraordinary change that has taken place in the city of Fitchburg and the Nashua River," Stoddart said in 2014 after the artwork was completed.
There are 32 communities in North Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire that are along the Nashua River.
Elizabeth Ainsley Campbell, executive director of the Groton-based Nashua River Watershed Association, said it's unfortunate that the mural was vandalized.
"Marion has been such a champion of the river and an inspiration to others," she said. "The art piece has been enjoyed by many people."
Moving forward, Wernick plans to get blue spray paint to cover the tag up. He's open to any suggestions about how to restore the mural.
"If you go to Home Depot I'm sure they have a swatch of (the color)," Wernick said.
The mural has been at the restaurant for about five years and this is the first time the artwork was vandalized, he said.
Wernick doesn't plan on filing a police report.
Artists Jon Allen and Sophy Tuttle painted the Stoddart mural.
Less than a mile away at the corner of Main and Willow streets, Allen completed a mural of Fitchburg bicycle manufacturer Iver Johnson on the side of a building that used to be a bicycle shop.
Painted alongside Johnson on the mural is a cyclist and a gear in shades of red, orange, pink, and purple.
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