Vandals cause Bay Ridge green thumbs to see red

A memorial erected last month at the 72nd Street entrance to theNarrows Botanical Garden was vandalized on Saturday, November 5.Three newly planted magnolia trees were torn up and thrown into abamboo patch in the gardens. A memorial plaque was damaged as ittoo was jettisoned from the site.

The memorial had been built to honor two deceased communityactivists: former President of the Bay Ridge Community Council andthe Garden Club of Bay Ridge Barbara Foran, and Thalia Pizzarello,the Lutheran Medical Center Auxiliary of the Year in 2010 and apast president of the Bay Ridge Business and Professional Women’sClub. Pizzarello had also been a member of the Garden Club of BayRidge.

The two ladies were heavily involved with the Garden Club andwe thought it would be nice to have something there in theirmemory, said Pizzarello’s sister, Margherita Clemento, who helpedarrange the memorial with current Garden Club President FloTroiano.

Clemento, a member of the Narrows Botanical Gardens, understandsthe work that goes into such a project. She says she is baffledthat someone would want to destroy it.

It saddens me to think that someone takes pleasure in rippingup beauty, she said.

The garden’s landscape designer Jimmy Johnson is also at a lossto explain the act if vandalism.

Who would want to harm a memorial for lovely women from agarden club? Johnson asked. That’s what we’re in shockabout.

Although the Narrows Botanical Gardens had been burglarizedseveral times in the spring and early summer, this is the firstmajor act of pure vandalism Johnson can remember.

We’ve had minor vandalism, he said. But this was donepurposefully – with an interest.

Helen Bruno lives across the street from the site of thevandalized memorial. She is shocked at the selfishness of theculprit.

It’s incredibly self-centered to deny people pleasure becauseof your own personal agenda – whatever your agenda may be, Brunosaid. I don’t understand that.

In the days following its defacement, the memorial has beenrebuilt to the best of the garden volunteers’ ability. Two of themagnolia trees have been replanted and the damaged plaque has beenput back in place. However, since water for the park has been shutoff for the winter, Johnson says the volunteer staff is keepingour fingers crossed that in the spring [the magnolia trees will]live.

But if the new trees don’t take to the soil, Clemento – whoalready donated $300 for the memorial — says she will purchase newones. She says it is not the money, but the vandal’s basicdisrespect for human life that pains her the most.

I’m grieving that this has been done, she said. Whensomething has been planted in someone’s memory, it’s like rippingup someone’s grave.

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