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Vandals hit senior center’s rooftop garden

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Hammond Street Senior Center Executive Director Kathy Bernier said sometime overnight on Monday, July 11, 2011, vandals scaled the building's fire escape and destroyed part of the "Still Growing" rooftop garden, throwing tomato plants to the pavement and ripping up carrots along with the irrigation system. Several of the seniors took to the roof on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, and cleaned up the mess and repaired most of the damage.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Tomato plants, part of a carrot bed and the new irrigation system at the Hammond Street Senior Center’s “Still Growing” rooftop garden were destroyed sometime Monday night or early Tuesday, officials at the facility said Tuesday.

“Sometime in the night, vandals ascended the roof … to wreak havoc upon the seniors’ award-winning vegetable garden,” Deanna Partridge, senior center development and communications director, said in a press release.

In addition to destroying the plants and watering system, the vandals threw several bags of organic compost, tomato plant cages and a wooden trellis from the roof of the senior center, which is housed in the historic Merrill Bank building downtown.

“The most serious damage was sustained by the garden’s new irrigation system, a section of which was broken beyond repair,” Partridge said.

The senior center, which offers Bangor region residents age 60 and older a gathering place and classes, meals, a fitness center, games and presentations, earned national accolades last year for the rooftop garden.

The garden was honored by Ashoka’s Changemakers in Washington, D.C., for mobilizing citizens to build a better community. The award came with a $5,000 grant, which was used in part to install the irrigation system that must now be replaced, Partridge said.

Charlie Taylor, who was instrumental to the garden’s coming together years ago and who helped construct some of the raised boxes and the wooden trellis, was angered by the vandalism.

“This is more than just a garden to us,” he said. “This is our independence, our ingenuity, our way of doing something meaningful with and for each other.”

The vandalism is not the first for the senior center. Windows and a glass door were broken two years, and last December members realized their propane tank was gone when they went to heat up tea for a holiday social gathering, Partridge said.

Those who have information about the vandalism may call the Bangor Police Department at 947-7384. The department’s anonymous tip line can be reached by pressing extension 6.

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