Equipment used to clear-cut the South Philly Meadows at FDR Park was disabled by vandalism, according to a report by 6 ABC News. Six unspecified pieces of equipment were damaged some time between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. According to the report, crews say that sugar was put in diesel tanks and that wires were cut.
Park visitors told Grid that there was an FBI presence on Thursday morning at FDR Park, which, combined with the deliberate nature of the machinery’s destruction, led to speculation that the vandalism might fall under what federal law considers “eco-terrorism.”
Carrie Adamowski from the Philadelphia Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, reached via email, wrote, “The FBI is aware of the reported vandalism at FDR Park. However, it’s our standard practice to neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations.”
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation had not yet responded to Grid’s inquiries.
On Friday morning, the park seemed peaceful. Workers could be seen in the distance, and after park goers complained that the unsecured area where the clear-cutting was occurring was dangerous, new fencing was being erected.
Longtime park users Anna Perry and Jessica Cherry of South Philly, who were out for a walk with a baby in a stroller and a dog on a leash, expressed surprise and disappointment about the fence being constructed by contractors.
“We’re definitely disappointed because we didn’t realize how much of this area will be under construction, and we thought this area would be preserved,” Perry laments.
Earlier, Cherry and Perry walked through the main picnic area on the black asphalt path that leads to one of the trailheads. Seeing no barriers blocking the path, they walked through, only to be told by a construction worker putting up a fence just 50 feet into the path that they needed to turn around.
“I kind of assumed that it was still open because there wasn’t really any signage up,” Cherry explains. “But as soon as we walked in there, someone had stopped us and said that this was closed off and that they’re starting construction or whatever. They’re building a gate around so that people can enter.”
Only after returning to the picnic area on the path did Perry see a barrier with signage flipped on its side and in the bushes next to the trail.
“We thought this area would be preserved,” Perry says. “I did see some signs up [at the front office] that said that they’re preserving a lot of the land. But it’s disappointing to not be able to access such a beautiful part of FDR.”
Cherry pointed out that the neighbors have been told that they would still be able to access the trails that are not in the wetland construction area near the Girard Point Bridge and I-95. But as the construction worker relayed, it appeared to Perry and Cherry that the fence was being constructed along the border of the trailheads, leaving just a small sliver of wooded border before opening up to the main picnic area.
“It’s just kind of disappointing and sad that they’re doing so much in such an important area,” Perry says. “Yeah, I agree,” Cherry adds. “It’s a little disappointing. And I think my dog is bummed.”