In the past, I've praised the maritime-themed Erie Basin Park that IKEA built in Red Hook as a sop to the surrounding community. It's spacious, well-groomed, brings you close to the waterside and incorporates a lot of interesting detritus from Red Hook's shipping days.
Perhaps I was to hasty in my accolades, because parts of the park also appear to be damn cheaply made.
One of the aspects of the park I had liked best were rows on large cement chocks ("A heavy fitting of metal or wood with two jaws curving inward, through which a rope or cable may be run"), on which, in metal letters, are the the names of 24 vessels that were once put in dry dock on the site. It seemed a nice, and informative, nod to Red Hook's history.
Well, that tribute lasted less than a year. Visiting the park this weekend, I found that a good number of the chocks had been vandalized. Letters had been pulled out of the chocks, perverting the names of the mighty ships. The "President Van Buren" is now the "President Van Ure." The "Esso Brooklyn" is now the "Es O Br Klyn." Easily, 20 ship names have been defaced.
I would place blame squarely at the feet of the vandals—who, I'm guessing, tossed the letters into the bay once they had yanked them out, and who appear to have been lazy scofflaws, since they only vandalized the chocks near the entrance to the park, leaving the chocks further in untouched.
And, indeed, I do blame them. Red Hook has few pristine green areas. Why ruin one out of boredom, idleness and spite? But I also blame IKEA. When I first saw the metal letters, I thought them pretty securely installed. But seeing an upsidedown "U" on the sign for the Resolute, I went up to see if I could pull it out. I did so with ease. I tried a few other letters. They were all wobbly, and with a good tug I could have removed any of them. What's more, the the letters themselves are junk, made of the lightest, flimsiest metal imaginable. They were made to fall to pieces.
When, and if, IKEA gets around to replacing the letters, I hope they use qualities materials.