Flushing Council Member calls for an end to a wave of vandalism at Kissena Park after 300 trees destroyed

Councilmember Sandra Ung was joined by NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue (far right) and Assistant Chief Christine Bastedenbeck on Monday to address a spate of vandalism at Kissena Park that has led to 300 trees being destroyed
Photo via Council Member Ung

More than 300 trees were recently destroyed at Kissena Park, and officials are looking for the culprits.

Council Member Sandra Ung, who represents Flushing, held a press conference at the park on Monday to denounce the vandalism and ask the public for information that could lead to the arrest of those responsible for the destruction.

Ung said the vandals allegedly destroyed the trees to create an ATV track, leaving the area barren. She was joined at the press conference by NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue and Christine Bastedenbeck, assistant chief of Patrol Borough Queens North, who also chided the vandals.

“Over the past week, either someone or a group of individuals has taken it upon themselves to excavate land to create what appears to be a well-planned track, destroying 300 recently planted trees in the process,” said Ung. “This is the same area where volunteers for the past two years have planted and cared for approximately 2,000 trees as part of a reforestation effort for the benefit of the entire community,” she said.

Ung continued her statement, urging residents to contact the Parks Department or the NYPD if they saw any suspicious activity.

A parkgoer first reported suspicious activity on April 7 after noticing someone riding an ATV through the area. Since then, evidence shows the vandals responsible for the destruction continued to return to the park over the course of a few days, destroying natural areas to create the tracks.

A specialist with the National Resources Group announced Thursday that the estimated damage to the area was about $15,000, which would classify the crime as a felony. The Natural Resources group is a team of professionals who study New York City’s parklands and natural areas. 

A specialist with the Natural Resources Group estimated the damage at $15,000. Photo courtesy of the office of Council Member Ung

The NYPD and Parks Enforcement officers have stepped up patrols in the area. Bastedenbeck urged residents with information on the vandalism to call (800) 577-TIPS.

Leona Chin, the founder of the Kissena Synergy, a community group devoted to the park, joined Ung and the other local leaders. Over the past two years, Chin and volunteers have spent several weekdays in the recently vandalized section of Kissena Park—near the Velodrome parking area—planting and caring for trees as part of a reforestation effort to restore the land. 

Last month, Ung presented Chin with a City Council Proclamation for years of dedication and volunteer work within the park and Flushing community.  

Kissena Park has a centuries-long horticultural history. In 1735, William Prince established the first commercial nursery in the Americas at the sprawling location. 

By the early 1870s, Samuel Bowne Parsons established a nursery that included the site of Kissena Park’s historic tree grove. Parson’s nursery imported over 100 varieties of exotic trees, including many trees that stand today in Central and Prospect Park.