Back in 2009 Transition Rogers Park started work on a community garden. Initially the plan was to try and get a garden into Touhy Park, but after consulting with the park's advisory council the decision was made to pursue a garden in Leonard Dubkin Park. After much work and marketing, and taking up the opportunity provided by Alderman Moore's Participatory Budget process, funding was obtained for the garden.
Then began a long and bureaucratic process to get water into the park and build the raised beds. That was finally completed in late July/early August, with much assistance from the Alderman's office. But we learned the challenge has not ended.
It seems that our presence has pissed off an individual I have named The Nightstalker. Whenever we are in the park the local neighbors who are present all praise the presence of the garden. They have access to a water fountain and a local volunteer has been busy pruning the bushes. The residents have noted that the local prostitutes have been deprived of their sofa behind bushes next to the CTA embankment, and the local drug dealers must now contend with unexpected garden visitors.
It is safe to say we have had a deleterious effect on the local economy. Our bad. However, The Nightstalker has taken up the defense of the those whose incomes we have impacted. How has s/he done that? By attacking our fence, put up to keep the dogs out of the garden boxes. S/he has knocked down the fencing, ripped out plantings, and attempted to steal the $5 hinges on the gate.
Life is tough when you need $5 hinges to make a go of things. I can't imagine the entertainment value of tossing out plantings or knocking down a cheap fence, but when a revenue stream is interrupted I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the lengths that folks will go to for fun.
We are filing police reports, attending Beat meetings, and attempted to email the CAPS Sergeant (hard to do when the email box is always full). One of our number has a night vision camera. We'll see what we can do with that.
In the meantime, we'll keep on monitoring the garden, working with the Park and the Alderman's office, and hopefully we will succeed in identifying The Nightstalker. I will bet that s/he hasn't got a cool car like The Green Hornet, or Batman. I also will bet they don't have super powers. We just have to be smarter than her/him. I can assure you we are not restoring the sofa to the park. We also are not interested in a cut in the drug deals we know are going down in that space. If the local prostitutes need someplace to conduct business, they can rent a studio nearby and split the rent. The drug dealers can move too. I understand their business is not compatible with the interests of local families who would like to feel safe in using that park.
I am looking forward to spring, and a full season of gardening. I hope that we will have identified The Nightstalker, or discouraged her/him from further assaults on the garden infrastructure. If any of my readers has a clue who we should be pursuing, let me know.