Vandals torch trees, kick down fences in Fort Greene Park

Vandals torch trees, kick down fences in Fort Greene Park
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

A mysterious saboteur torched some leftover Christmas trees in Fort Greene Park on Sunday night — an incident that park watchdogs say is part of a recent spree of vandalism in the vexed oasis.

Sometime after 5 pm, the culprit set fire to 25 castoff pines near the Washington Park entrance, damaging a mature horse chestnut tree, blackening a park wall, and destroying a plastic bulletin board.

Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor wouldn’t speculate on how the blaze started, but lovers of the greenspace have their own ideas.

“Somebody’s harboring a deep, dark secret in their heart, thinking that vandalism is a permissible activity,” said Charles Jarden, chairman of the Fort Greene Park Conservancy. “The park is the neighborhood jewel, and someone is just making a mess!”

The fire took place after the popular Christmas tree recycling event, Mulchfest, but wasn’t reported to police. Instead, park workers noticed the damage on Monday morning.

It’s not the only brazen act of park mischief this winter. Jarden said that since New Year’s Eve, someone has been bending metal stakes and kicking in wooden fences — used to protect patches of grass — near the DeKalb Avenue entrance and Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.

Jarden is now alerting his volunteers to be on the lookout for new vandalism and to dial 311 as soon as they see it. His group has spent more than $1,000 on the barriers and has already replaced them twice.

Josh Hamlet, 23, who lives around the corner from the park, speculated that the fire was likely a “drunken, late-night debacle” but that he’d chase down any daytime fence kickers if he saw them.

“The city is trying to take care of an important greenspace and keep it beautiful,” Hamlet said. “Couldn’t you at least meet them half way by not breaking s–t apart?”

Alton Alburo, 22, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, suggested that park users keep their cameras ready so they can broadcast sightings of any vandals on YouTube.

“Someone is drunk, or recklessly taking out aggression on the park,” he said. “It needs to stop now.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.