Desecrated 9/11 ‘living’ tribute restored

A 9/11 “living memorial” destroyed a week after the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks has been brought back to life thanks to a group of city officials, activists and volunteers.

With New York City Parks Department funding, a group sprinkled with children and seniors battled the elements on Saturday, November 14 to replant a grove of ornamental trees at South Ozone Park’s Lefferts Playground, which fell victim to “arborcide” on September 18.

The original grove – which consisted of six plum and one red bud whose limbs had been cracked and ripped off – was planted on September 11, 2003 with funding provided by The Queens Courier, in partnership with the city Parks Department.

The new plantings consist of seven plum trees – at a cost of around $600 per tree, the Parks Department said – that will bloom come spring, restoring beauty to the park and reinvigorating the memory of the fallen.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, who was joined at the replanting by Community Board 10 (CB 10) chair Betty Bratton, CB 10 manager Karyn Peterson and members of the Locust Grove Civic Association, told The Courier, “People in general who come out there and sit on those benches and walk that pathway were just happy to see the area restored.”

“Think about it in the larger picture,” Lewandowski added. “Queens is the borough of trees. It was devastating to see those trees destroyed.”

She said there are still no leads on who may have been behind the arborcide, but noted that the portion of the park that is home to the trees will now be locked in the evening hours. A second plaque commemorating those who perished on 9/11 will be added near the grove of trees, Lewandowski said.

A replanting of ornamentals in Middle Village’s Juniper Valley Park, also the scene of a late-summer arborcide, will take place on November 28.


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