Pastorius Park pond (left) before restoration work and fountains were added (right) (Photos by Tracy Gardner)

by Tracy Gardner

When our Friends group installed the aeration fountains, circulating pumps, and new ground well pump to introduce spring water into the pond to combat summer heat and evaporation, we wanted to create healthier conditions at the park for the general public.

But we were also equally devoted to improving the environment for Pastorius’ wildlife, which while largely hidden, is abundant in our park’s 16 acres.

Last year, our organization installed a turtle perch in the pond, so that the turtles can sun themselves safely, away from kids and dogs.

Yet despite all these improvements and great work done by our volunteers every single year, there is a serious problem at the park, but it is something our entire community can help us resolve.

That problem is the persistent harassment of park wildlife by children, who remove frogs, toads, and turtles from the stream and inlet area near the lower bridge. There are also instances of kids hitting the animals with sticks.

And I wonder, why is this tolerated? Isn’t it a basic and essential lesson to be kind to animals, and to simply leave them in peace?

Never mind the fact that at each entrance to Pastorius Park is City Parks and Recreation signage stipulating that wildlife is not to be fed or disturbed. Period. Likewise, no damage is to be done to the park’s landscape elements, such as trees.

So if you parents suspect or know your child is disturbing the park’s animals, particularly in the lower inlet (a hotbed for this behavior during concerts): come get your children.

If you suspect or know your child is damaging trees by trying to see if they can break lower limbs by rocking them or climbing, please come get your children.

Overseeing this behavior is not the responsibility of anyone else at the park, who are typically talked back to by the kids, anyways.

Enjoy yourselves at the concerts and events like Parks on Tap you are privileged with, but please be mindful of where your children are at the park and what they are doing.

This is your park – help us take care of it.

Tracy Gardner is the president of Friends of Pastorius Park.