Residents: Teen vandals set fire, threaten people and dogs in McGolrick Park

Residents: Teen vandals set fire, threaten people and dogs in McGolrick Park
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A gang of marauding teenagers is terrorizing McGolrick Park in Greenpoint, breaking park benches, setting fire to the maintenance building — and threatening local puppies with death, neighbors say.

Residents claim gangs of teens have caused trouble in the park, located between Russell and Monitor streets and Driggs and Nassau avenues, for years, but that the youths launched a particularly vicious campaign this week, brazenly vandalizing the park in broad daylight and setting fire to the maintenance building on Tuesday night — and holding a knife to the neck of one park-goers’ pooch.

“I saw this one kid throwing paint on the ground and spreading it around with a stick in the middle of the day,” said Ben Moss, who lives across the street from the park. “The Parks Department was still there, but they were powerless to stop this kid.”

Moss added that the he no longer wants to go into the park because he fears the teens.

“One time, I was walking through the park and they threw a ball at me,” he said. “I’m scared to confront them. They are such a big group of strong kids who seem aggressive.”

The Fire Department quickly squelched the fire that was set at 9:36 pm on Tuesday night, but it knocked out power to the entire park, and it still has not been restored.

“We are having a concert there tonight, so now I have to go get a generator,” said Holly Fairall, co-chair of Friends of McGolrick Park, on Friday. “We are wasting so much time and energy and money fixing these messes rather than dealing with the problem so it does not keep happening.”

Insult to injury: Not only did the vandals set fire to the park maintenance building and tag it with spray paint, but they went back in, stole paint that was stored there and poured it all over the sidewalk.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

As if the arson wasn’t enough, the teens continued to terrorize the park after the fire. They came back on Wednesday and Thursday nights to tag more walls and pour more paint on the ground, and according to Fairall, a group of teens held a knife up to the throat of a dog who was walking through the park with its owner on Thursday night.

“The dog’s owner was livid,” said Fairall. “She spent all day in the police station.”

Det.Brian Sessa said the department is investigating the fire and the graffiti and plans to step up patrols in the park.

Fairall met with members of the NYPD as well as Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Williamsburg) and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) on Friday afternoon, and brainstormed for ideas on how to stop the onslaught — including possibly closing the park at dusk instead of at 1 am.

“There is no reason people should be hanging out in the park at midnight just to cause trouble,” said Fairall.

She said she will organize a public meeting on the issue within the next few weeks.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

Smoove move, Ex-lax: Some yahoo spray-painted his street name on a brick wall at McGolrick Park.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini