Arborcide in Vets Park

The trees in question are pictured here before they were replanted by the Parks Department.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park was the scene of arborcide as three trees dedicated to vets who made the ultimate sacrifice were literally ripped from the ground.

The damage was discovered by a “park watcher” who was strolling through the waterfront park with his dog on the morning of Thursday, February 2, said Theodore Korony Post past commander and Community Board 10 member Pat Devine.

In addition to the damaged tree destruction that were located on a hill in the center of the park, there was also graffiti vandalism. Saplings in the rear of the park, where it borders the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative, were also damaged, Devine said.

Youth from the area oftentimes use the park for parties well into the evening and early morning, and they probably did not realize the trees were in a memorial area dedicated to veterans who served their country, Devine said.

An investigation by the 45th Precinct, NYPD, and Parks department should be forthcoming, said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns.

“Bronx Community Board 10 is appalled at the heinous acts of vandalism perpetrated at the Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park,” Kearns said. “The park had just recently undergone a major renovation and was dedicated to the memory of Bronx veterans past and present, who have defended the cause of liberty and democracy worldwide.”

The teens were probably just acting out, but in the process they damaged parts of a $1.3 million renovation, Devine said. Kearns said that the community will not tolerate such behavior.

“These cowardly acts of vandalism, perpetrated by an ignorant few, will not go unpunished,” Kearns said. “Those who perpetrated these acts will be brought to justice.”

The park will be returned to its former condition and will serve as “a shinning example to the community’s commitment to open space,” Kearns said. Parks Department crews were seen replanting the trees on Friday, February 3.

The park goer who was in the park on Friday, February 3, whodesires to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said that the park has 13 non-functioning lights, primarily in the rear, towards Weir Creek.

According to a source in the Parks Department, the three trees damaged are expected to survive and Parks Department enforcement personnel will be monitoring the area more closely to deter future vandalism. A police report has also been filed by the Parks Department, said the source.

“It is illegal and punishable by law to remove, kill, or damage a street or park tree,” said a Parks Department spokesman. “Those found guilty are subject to a year in jail, or a fine of up to $15,000. If you see someone removing or otherwise harming a tree, report it immediately by calling 911. If you have further information about this act of vandalism, call the 45th Precinct at (718) 822-5411.”

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