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Narrows Botanic Garden beseiged by vandals

Gardeners: We need protection from vandals

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Vandals have attacked a group of flowering trees at the Narrows Botanic Gardens — the second wave of destruction in the last two weeks to hit the southern tip of a green oasis directly across the street from residents who have clashed with the garden’s leadership.

Narrows Board of Trustees President Richard Haugland said one of its $200 magnolia trees near the entrance to the garden at 72nd Street and Shore Road had most of its branches broken off overnight. A few days later, Haugland found that another of the flowering saplings had been girdled — a technique of killing a tree by shearing away a ring of bark around its trunk.

He said the attacks mirrored an incident nearly a year ago when several magnolias were ripped up out of the ground in the exact same section of the park.

“It all seems to be to concentrated in this area, which is kind of suspicious,” Haugland said, adding that the destruction was particularly hurtful because the shrubs were planted in remembrance of people who have died.

Haugland said that the Garden board has a history of tension with residents of the building on the opposite corner of Shore Road and 72nd Street, who initially helped fund Narrows when it started out in the northern corner of Shore Road Park in 1995. But as the vegetation in the garden grew, Haugland said he started hearing complaints that it interfered with first floor residents’ view of the harbor, although Haugland claims most of the obstruction comes from pre-existing trees planted by the Parks Department.

“I’ve even had some of them come up to me and say they wish the whole place would just be clear-cut,” Haugland said.

Narrows trustee and Community Board 10 member Greg Ahl said he has met with the building’s tenants to try to come to an agreement, and had received threats from one particular resident — fellow CB10 member Allen Bortnick — that he would personally destroy the bamboo the Narrows staff planted on the waterside edge of the garden.

“I couldn’t believe it!” Ahl said.

Bortnick confirmed Ahl’s story, saying his threat stands, but denied that he or anyone else in his building damaged the magnolias.

“Our only problem is with the bamboo,” said Bortnick, claiming that the tall, stalky plant blocks out the seascape worse than the trees or shrubs, even though Bortnick himself lives on the opposite side of the building from the garden, and would have no view of the water either way.

Bortnick argued that the magnolias were most likely targeted because they happen to sit near the entrance of the garden, and that the vandals who stripped the branches off the one tree were probably just taking cuttings for their own gardens.

“They were just marauders who saw what they wanted and took it,” Bortnick said, adding that he frequently sees people entering the garden late at night to walk their dogs.

Bortnick also claimed that complaints weren’t just limited to him or his building, and that he once collected signatures for a petition from people living along the garden’s entire length, from his corner up to 69th Street.

“They just want to make this personal so they can get away with blocking the view,” Bortnick said.

Updated 5:34 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Freida Livery from BH says:
I think it was self inflicted.

Plant things with thorns - they won't be stolen or disturbed.
July 25, 2012, 11:25 am
whatever from Greenpoint says:
So this guy Bortnick lives on the other side of the building, with no view what-so-ever of the water or of the garden that "impairs" other people's view (not his), yet he is the one going out collecting signatures and complaining. Sounds like someone who just wants to gripe about something that has nothing to do with him. Pathetic annoying nosy neighbor not minding his own business. Get a life Bortnick.
July 25, 2012, 11:43 am
Henry from Bay Ridge says:
Bortnick is out of control.
July 25, 2012, 11:43 am
Joey Bots from Bots Ridge says:
Time to close down this 'community' garden. Too much drama!!!! Get a life and move to the 'burbs if you all can't get along!
July 25, 2012, 11:57 am
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
people in Bay Ridge always argue over nothing.. get civilize guys.
July 25, 2012, 12:43 pm
Dave from Bay ridge says:
Thanks Allen Bortnick for all you do! Bay Ridge Loves you, keep fighting for us!
July 25, 2012, 5:21 pm
Bobby from 61st street says:
Wow- all this over a garden, I know Allen and hes a great guy, I hope he succeeds here, he helped us alot with pollution control on the waterfront
July 25, 2012, 5:34 pm
Red from Bay ridge says:
Why does a garden have a history of tension with the community, it seems to me that there are some big problems there and that Bklyn Parks needs to step in and restore order and community well being, obviously the community near the garden does not like the garden or gardeners, so it seems.
July 25, 2012, 5:59 pm
The O' Connors from Ridge Blvd says:
Re Red Hey theres no history of tension with the garden overall but there is with one of the gardeners, the guy who was in a nuthouse and now thinks hes some sort of urban farmer in the Del. They need to get him out of there...
July 25, 2012, 6:10 pm
Clucky from 69th st Farms says:
Hi Everybody! I'm Clucky and I just love life at the Farm here at the Gardens, Farmer Jimmy takes care of me and I lay eggs for him in return, he says soon I will be safe with a big wall around the garden to protect the farm and our hangout area , life sure is grand when youve got em fooled like we do! Why we can get away with just about anything behind our gated confines, Why here comes Buzz the Bee, he lives here too, its a regular private paradise all on Public City parkland, OOps , Farmer Jimmy dont like it when too many people know what goes on here at the farm ,,,quiet Buzz . he looks mad..
July 25, 2012, 7:06 pm
Irene from Bay Ridge says:
I have lived over from the garden when it was a garden for the last 30 years. I purchased my apt. because of the view.Now for the last 8 years, all I see is green trees which are out of controll.In all those 30 years we had no problems.Maybe someone should look into what is realy going on.You realy don't have to look to far.
July 25, 2012, 8:05 pm
Irene from Bay Ridge says:
By the way , I agree with Allen Bortnick. I' sorry I didn't get to sign your petition.There are many who agree with you.
July 25, 2012, 8:11 pm
Irene from Bay Ridge says:
By the way, I agree with Allen Bortnick. I'm sorry I didn't get to sign your petition. There are many people who agree with you. You are not out ther alone.
July 25, 2012, 8:16 pm
Irene from Bay Ridge says:


By the way, I agree with Allen Bortnick. I,m sorry I didn,t get a chance to sign your petition. There are a lot of people out there who feel the same way.
July 25, 2012, 8:21 pm
Phil V from Bay Ridge says:
Thanks Irene I thought I was alone but now I see that many of my nieghbors are sick of looking at those trees and remembering our Shore Views, Mr Bortnick Bring on your petition I will sign it!
July 25, 2012, 8:26 pm
Uncle Joe Dunney from Shore Hill says:
I cant believe my ears or eyes i should say, a wall on my beloved Shore Road, why generations of Dunneys have seen the view from our parlor at our Shore Rd Mansion, known to locals as" Passing Wind" and now some gardeners want to wall us off because they don't like noise while they clip flowers , as sure as my name is Uncle Joe Dunney this wall will not rise Sonny!
July 25, 2012, 10:58 pm
Joey Bots from Bots Ridge says:
Tell us more Clucky!
July 26, 2012, 8:35 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
To Irene and Alan Bortnick,

The NBG is a huge asset to the community. I cannot believe the idiocy of the comments you have made. Complaining about trees in a park? Get real. If you purchased an apartment on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd floor of one of the buildings near the shore the risk you run is that trees will grow higher and potentially block your view, for the growing season at least. The rest of the Bay Ridge community does not have to accommodate itself to your desire to preserve your private views. You should be ashamed of yourselves for the selfishness and outright stupidity of your comments.
July 26, 2012, 9:31 am
Teddy from Shore Area says:
Run the risk of a group of non Shore Rd residents planting NEW trees that destroy the views of Shore Rd residents, that they paid a premium for,this gardeners have planted tree after tree in a small area , they have a right to complain, there is an out of control situation at that Garden that needs to be addressed by the City and not discussed by locally sourced sympathetic groups , Thank You Irene& Allen for EXPOSING things to everyone Sorry you had to be insulted by angry resident who probably is volunteer drone at garden
July 26, 2012, 9:48 am
Dennis from Bay Ridge says:
That Garden is more than an asset to the community it is a personal asset to those who run private business out of it , good work John for telling us all of its VALUE, you should be ashamed at yourself for defending it, do you pay your taxes, PS not everyone does... especially those who run private for profit business out of city parks
July 26, 2012, 10:04 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Hey Dennis, why don't you tell everyone what "private business" is being run out of the NBG, rather than using vague allegations as a smear tactic?

Teddy, have you ever looked at the NBG and its topgraphy, as well as the trees that have been there for generations? Your comments are ridiculous. What's next, you'll complain about sun shine or the wind off the water? No one is guaranteed a view of the water from the 1st, 2nd or 3rd floor of a building on Shore Road. If the people who bought there thought otherwise, they are fools. I can't beliebe the narrow, small minded and selfish comments of the Shore road residents posting on this article.
July 27, 2012, 9:22 am
Paul A. from Bay Ridge/Ft. Hamilton says:
Does anyone remember the lunatic that some years ago decided to Paul Bunyanize the trees along Shore Road because they were blocking his view? It was in the 90's block area & he would go out at night & whack out what he could. Eventually caught, he paid thousands of money per tree in fines and earned himself a criminal record. Think about that.
July 27, 2012, 1:59 pm
Dusty from Shore Rd says:
No one sees the sun or feels the wind becuase the trees block it all. John, it seems like you are likely one of the gardeners or a friend, you likely live blocks away and while we may be fools in your eyes we are fools with a view. Your wickedness will not deter well meaning persons.
July 27, 2012, 2:45 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
The lunatic fringe is out in force:

Dusty from Shore Rd says:
No one sees the sun or feels the wind becuase the trees block it all. John, it seems like you are likely one of the gardeners or a friend, you likely live blocks away and while we may be fools in your eyes we are fools with a view. Your wickedness will not deter well meaning persons.
July 27, 2012, 3:32 pm
Dusty from Shore Rd says:
I know your type slinging insults from behind a PC when in real life you are a meek weed pulling drone, your allegiance with the Devils partners won't deter good people, you will find your Wall in hell. John from Bay Ridge, the good people of Shore Rd you have made a mockery of, and the ground that you walk on, you shall not rise above!!
July 27, 2012, 4:32 pm
Carol from BR/SP says:
I am puzzled by these complaints about the trees. I walk through the NBG often and it seems to me that the taller trees are the ones on the sidewalk, which have probably just grown taller since you purchased your apartments. The trees in the NBG are smaller varieties, and the ground is lower, so how can they be blocking the view?
July 31, 2012, 9:47 am
Joey Bots says:
Clucky?
July 31, 2012, 1:56 pm
Dennis from Bay Ridge says:
I think they are complaining, and rightfully so, about trees that were planted over the past decade or so, by unskilled, unknowledgeable and unauthorized local residents which now are growing into each other and out of control... no one is complaining about the older big trees that have grown for decades...The NBG needs to be evaluated by skilled and legitimate botanists and the like, not left to the incapable hands of self described designers and opportunists.
July 31, 2012, 11:32 pm
AD from BR says:
Whenever anyone on these blogs concerning the NBG writes anything remotely positive about the NBG or brings up some logical points in defense of it, they are “screamed” at and attacked. It is pretty obvious from such overreactions that the critics have personal issues and agendas. Any amateur psychologist could figure it out from their postings.
Aug. 3, 2012, 2:05 pm
Maureen from Shore Road says:
From what I hear its a few in the NBG with the agendas, not the critic, if you have seen the conditions at NBG recently you would note no one is overreacting,,,that garden is a hotbed of lewd activity in the evening, I once saw one of those gardeners hosting a profanity laced gathering, guests were arriving wearing skimpy neon jumpers and some were wearing capes, that NBG needs to be cleaned up or shut down, and soon!
Aug. 6, 2012, 6:50 pm
Mark Higgins from Higgsridge says:
Maureen - I was the man wearing a cape! What a night!!
Aug. 8, 2012, 12:03 pm
John from Bay Ridge says:
These complaints are really nut job material. Why not just cut down all the trees, pave the park over and devote it to parking for the residents of the apartment buildings that are complaining? This way they could see the water, over the hoods of the cars parked there. We could have the caped park visitors serve as parking valets, who would entertain those waiting to pick up their cars with lewd, profanity laced comments.

After all, who ever heard of trees in a park? That's just crazy. What's next, grass and flowers? Who do these NBG people think they are?
Aug. 8, 2012, 3:24 pm
William from Bay Ridge says:
LOL!!!! It was a performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aug. 10, 2012, 1:17 pm
Teddy from Bay Ridge says:
paving over that area is the best idea I have heard, many here wish it would happen,no one who lives on shore rd is laughing about the situation going on at nbg, it is a shame, obviously some find it funny, we do not.
Aug. 10, 2012, 9:16 pm
Rose from Shore Road says:
Those gardeners destroyed my view, now I can only see trees and the drunks that sleep under them from the porch of my villa.
Aug. 14, 2012, 3:28 pm
Maureen from Shore Rd says:
I am not/was not talking about the theater group performing in the park, they seem like a great group of kids, I was referencing the behaviors of the gardener and his cronies....there was no performance going on, when I saw one of those gardeners and another man dressed all in black wearing masks chasing each other around the park..I know what I saw and they were perverts not performers!
Aug. 19, 2012, 5:18 pm
Tabby from Bay Ridge says:
Are you kidding me? The garden is lovely. The NBG is truly a gem. You can see the water from every point of the sidewalk. So amazing to look at both beautiful gardens and the water beyond than just one or the other. Nothing in the least bit inappropriate is going on in that garden. People are enjoying a beautiful space where they can enjoy nature, the sun, and a beautiful open space.
April 21, 2013, 3:59 pm
Ron from Sunset Park says:
I can only hope the new waterfront park being built on the water's edge in my neighborhood is half as nice as NBG. From the looks of it, the people in Sunset Park are already twice as nice as some of the folks in Bay Ridge.
June 21, 2013, 10:28 am
Timmy from Bay Ridge says:
I just read this, wow, I thought that gardner guy owned that park , he told me it was his park and I could not be in it, now I know he is like my Mom said, just a crazy guy who was once in a lunatic asylum who now "believes" he does..
Aug. 19, 2013, 4:35 pm

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