Thursday, December 3, 2009

Residents Replant Trees in Juniper Valley Park Following Vandalism

Community members joined city officials this past weekend to plant trees in Juniper Valley Park to replace ones that were destroyed by vandals in September.

Middle Village residents, members of the Juniper Park Civic Association, the Juniper Juniors, a local Cub Scout troop and Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski gathered at the park on Saturday to replace 14 trees that were cut down in September. The trees were among 300 recently planted as part of the mayor’s PlaNYC effort.

During overnight hours in September, an unknown vandal entered the park and cut the trees down. Unlike previous acts of vandalism, in which limbs were ripped off the trees, the perpetrator of the recent destruction clearly used a power saw to cut the trees down. The JPCA and several elected officials offered a reward, but the suspect wasn’t caught. A total of 20 trees have been victimized during several separate incidents this year.

In response, the volunteers planted nine Snow Goose Cherry trees, two Kwanzan Cherry trees and three Bosnian Pines. Ed Dart of Dart’s Tree Farm in Long Island donated 20 elm trees in response to the vandalism. However, the park is in an area affected by Asian long-horned beetles, and since elms are particularly susceptible to infestation, they will be planted in other parts of Queens and the Bronx.

“The park has been made whole again, and we’re putting this behind us and moving forward,” Robert Holden, president of the JPCA, told NY1. “This is our big moment – we’re not going to give in to vandalism and we’re going to take back our park, and we certainly did.” Holden said the civic association is seeking grant money to have cameras installed in the park, which would be linked directly to the 104th Precinct stationhouse.

Following September’s vandalism, city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe released a statement reminding residents that arborcide is a criminal offense punishable by fines and jail time. “The loss of 12 newly planted trees… is a blow to the quality of life and environmental health of Juniper Valley Park,” said Benepe. “Trees are a valuable asset, providing shade and oxygen, cleaning the air and creating homes for our wildlife.”

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