A group that maintains an east Bronx park dedicated to American heroes is putting out an all-points alert for those desecrating it with their all terrain vehicles.
For the second time, after a Feb. 8 snow storm, turf-tearing ATV tracks were found in Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park in Throggs Neck.
“We have a 4 X 4 all-terrain vehicle that is cutting up and destroying the park. You can see the tracks coming in, and they are ripping up the place,” said Patrick Devine, a Community Board 10 member who helped bring about its opening on July 4, 1976, and now heads the group partnering with the Parks Department to to maintain it.
A $1.3 million reconstruction project was recently completed at the park, site of a victory garden dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces.
Newly planted saplings in the garden will be dedicated to individual veterans. One was already dedicated in 2012.
Devine said that the ATV rider tore one of the saplings in half , tore up part of the infield of the park’s softball field, and ripped up plantings near the park’s flag pole and monument.
He is now offering a $500 reward on behalf of Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the ATV damage.
“It is definitely someone from the community, and it is going to be the community who is going to find him,” said Devine. “He is destroying the development of the trees and flower beds.” Devine speculated that the ATV joyrider may not realize the park is dedicated to veterans, and is just looking for a place to “rip it up.”
This is not the first time that the park has had this problem, he said. Before it was built, the area was known as “the dunes,” with young people riding dirt bikes or small motorcycles there, he said.
According to the Parks Department, fines for riding an ATV in the park range from $250 to $1000, with a possible criminal court summons.
“It is illegal for ATVs, or any motor vehicle, to be brought into or operated in any area of a park except on park roads or designated parking areas,” said a Parks spokesman. “Parks Enforcement Patrol officers conduct regular patrols of Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, and work closely with the NYPD to enforce quality-of-life laws, including these restrictions on ATV use.”
Devine said that the phantom ATV rider could be an adult or teenager.
He is also calling for improved fencing that prevents vehicles from entering the park.
Anyone having info on the ATV should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393