Arborcide at Juniper Valley Park
by Daniel Bush
Sep 15, 2009 | 3309 views | 0 0 comments | 100 100 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of several trees that was chopped in half by vandals over the weekend.
One of several trees that was chopped in half by vandals over the weekend.
In the worst single case of arborcide in months, 12 new trees were killed in Juniper Valley Park this Sunday, causing community leaders to quickly round up a $2,500 reward for information leading to the capture of the tree haters.

The crime was reported to the 104th Precinct by Steve Fiedler, chairman of Community Board 5’s Parks Committee.

According to a CB5 report, Fiedler believes the trees were cut down by an electrical saw between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning, September 13.

Later that same day, the park played host to Middle Village Community Day.

After the crime was reported, Dorothy Lewandowski, the Queens parks commissioner, and a resident of Middle Village, contacted the Queens District Attorney’s office and Queens Patrol Borough North Command to start an investigation.

The police began ringing doorbells, in search of witnesses. As of press time, none have been found.

“Arborcide is a serious criminal offense and an assault on our communities, and the loss of 12 newly planted trees in Juniper Valley Park is a blow to the quality of live and environmental health of Juniper Valley Park,” Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley called the act “a senseless crime,” and issued a strong warning to whomever swiped the saplings.

“I am very disappointed that someone would be so destructive to our community,” Crowley said. “I want to let these tree killers know that acts of vandalism will not be taken lightly this community.”

This was not the first arborcide at the park, which is undergoing an upgrade that includes new tree plantings, though it was by far the largest.

Two trees were damaged in April and in June, according to the Parks Department, and seven more sustained damage in July. Parks did not say who was to blame in those incidents.

Crowley, former council member Thomas Ognibene, who is running against her in the November election, and a civic group have combined to pony up a sizeable $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction in the case.

The police ask anyone with information to call the department’s Crimestoppers hotline at (800) 577-TIPS.

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