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Union Square Park

Parks Enforcement Patrol Nabs Tree Destroyer In Union Square Park

Friday, February 24, 2006
No. 08

Early this morning, Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers arrested David Sasson for extensive vandalism to trees and shrubs in Manhattan’s Union Square Park. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is currently processing the case.

"In many neighborhoods, small parks serve as oases of nature for thousands of visitors and as habitat for wildlife," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "The willful destruction of trees and shrubs is a crime against nature and the community. We are glad that our PEP officers were able to catch this suspect while he was in the process of committing this senseless crime."

Over the last three weeks, the 3.6-acre Union Square Park has been the site of repeated overnight vandalism to its trees, shrubs, and flowering bushes. The damage, which was concentrated in the southern section of the park and was the result of someone physically ripping apart trees and bushes, amounts to approximately $24,000. It includes damage to a number of trees and bushes, including 23 hydrangea bushes, 12 red-stemmed dogwoods, 10 holly bushes, seven rose of Sharons, three butterfly bushes, a Chinese dogwood, a magnolia tree, and more than 20 street and ornamental trees. The damage is so significant that most items will need to be replaced.

The most recent and significant damage occurred during the night of Sunday, February 19, when an eyewitness spotted an individual vandalizing trees; Parks Enforcement Officers began overnight stakeouts of the area immediately thereafter. Last night, at around 1:30 a.m., two Parks Enforcement Patrol Sergeants apprehended the perpetrator while he was in the process of ripping branches off trees.

Parks & Recreation congratulates PEP Sergeants Edwin Falcon and Derek Walther for their hard work in arresting the perpetrator and for protecting the safety of our parks. Parks also thanks Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Glickman and the NYPD for their assistance in resolving this matter.

The 167-year-old Union Square Park is a gathering place for New Yorkers from all walks of life, and a center for public events, recreation and commerce. Since 1976, the Union Square Greenmarket has served as a local landmark, offering fresh food and plants on the north and west sides of the park (the same spot where a flower market flourished over a century ago). In 1997, the United States Department of the Interior designated Union Square Park a National Historic Landmark. In the fall of 2006, Parks & Recreation plans to break ground on the final phase of reconstruction of Union Square Park, which includes the unification and expansion of two existing playgrounds, a seasonal café, and a decoratively paved plaza for the Greenmarket and public events.

Directions to Union Square Park

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