Fort Collins park hit by senseless vandalism

31 Jul

Someone took a machete or axe, walked down a path at Fort Collins’ newest community park and hacked down 19 trees Tuesday night, leaving city officials and local residents appalled by the destruction.

When Doug Kokes, a crew chief with the Fort Collins Park Department, arrived at Spring Canyon Community Park at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday he couldn’t believe the havoc the vandals had caused.

Strewn along a path in the park were a variety of trees, laying on their sides.

“It was disappointing. We tried to develop the park into a beautiful place,” said Kokes. “It is very disappointing.”

He said neighborhood residents are very upset, unable to comprehend why anyone would engage in such vandalism.

When the park opened in 2007 the young trees were an integral part of the park’s development.

Ralph Zentz, the city’s assistant forester, said he couldn’t believe what he saw when he got to the southwest Fort Collins park Wednesday morning.

“I saw the first two trees and said ‘this is bad’,” Zentz recalled. “Then I rounded a bend and saw eight more trees down.

“This is the city’s newest community park, right up against the foothills. It is really attractive. This is a sad, sad situation. I can’t comprehend what motivates people to do this,” said Zentz.

Zentz said the trees were four years old and had really taken off before the vandals hacked them down.

They included four oak, eight ash and seven honey locust trees.

He said people from all over Fort Collins – who use the park for biking, hiking and horseback riding – have come up to him and offered to donate money so the trees can be replaced.

“Some people are just outraged and others are pretty sad,” said Zentz. “The consensus is that they should be replaced.”

Zentz said he is not sure the city has the money to replace all the trees immediately and may do it over a period of time.

Zentz, who has worked in the Fort Collins Forestry Department for 24 years, said his greatest fear is that after the new trees are planted, the same vandals might return and cut them down.

Parks crew chief Kokes said he had no idea who the suspects might be.

“Anybody could have done it,” he said. They struck between 11 p.m. Tuesday night, when the park closed, and 5:30 a.m. when Kokes discovered the destruction.

Kokes has filed a police report.

The trees cost about $500 a piece with a total replacement cost estimated at $9,500, according to Zentz and Kokes.

The fallen trees were being removed this morning. The stumps also have to be removed and adjustments made to the irrigation system that watered the trees.

Kokes said as he walked through the park today, he was stopped by a citizen who asked if the parks department had deliberately cut down the trees.

He told the neighborhood resident that no, it was vandalism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: