by David Bird
(July 16, 1969) The police official investigating the mysterious cutting down of a grove of trees in a Forest Hills park last month said yesterday that he had not yet questioned a member of a local vigilante group who told an interviewer two weeks ago that “You can use your own imagination” as to who destroyed the trees.
The vigilante group objected to the trees, in a park area at 78th Avenue off Grand Central Parkway, charging they were a shelter for homosexuals.
Myles Tashman, a lawyer and a member of the vigilantes, had conceded in the interview that his group had broken the law in earlier harassment of the homosexuals. But he said the vigilantes had the tacit consent of the police.
He stopped short of admitting cutting the trees. Deputy Chief Inspector John T. Downer said yesterday that he “probably will” talk with Mr. Tashman before he winds up his investigation of the incident “in a week or two.”
COST PUT AT $15,000
The Parks Department has estimated the cost of replacing the trees – including 15 dogwoods, 11 London planes, a number of wild cherry trees and other greenery – at $15,000.
Chief Downer said he had talked with Joan Luxenburg, a Flushing resident. Miss Luxenburg had said she was driving by the park with a friend on the night of June 18 when they saw a tree being chopped down.
Miss Luxenburg said she and her friend had reported the incident shortly afterward to a policeman in a patrol car. Chief Downer said Miss Luxenburg identified the patrolman from photographs.
Chief Downer said he had questioned the patrolman who had reported he saw no one cutting down trees when he reached the scene.
A further check with all patrolmen who have covered the park area, Chief Downer said, showed that none of them had seen any tree cutting.