A "senseless" act of destruction has enraged a Melbourne community, with more than 20 newly-planted trees brutally hacked down.
Local resident Luke told Yahoo News Australia his wife was "nearly in tears" when discovering the damage. "I am incredibly sad and very angry about it," he said. "It was pretty heartbreaking to see my young child trying to reattach the trees to their stumps."
There is bewilderment within the community, Luke said, which is now searching for answers over who would do such a thing and what motivated them.
The trees were part of extensive and costly work done on the area surrounding Coburg Station as part of the state government's Level Crossing Removal Project which is removing 110 level crossings across the city to reduce congestion and improve safety.
'Such a bizarre act'
The program, which maintains the new community spaces created as part of the project, described the act as "senseless" and confirmed to Yahoo it would now work to replace the damaged trees.
"It is such a bizarre act and it must have taken a degree of premeditation due to the multiple tools involved, not to mention the physical effort of cutting down so many trees in the middle of the night even if they were all relatively young," Luke said.
Mayor of Merri-bek, Councillor Angelica Panopoulos, said council would assist the state government in trying to determine what happened, with residents able to contact them with any information they may have.
"I was really disappointed to learn that a number of trees have been snapped in the parklands surrounding Coburg Station. We value building up our canopy cover and urban forest in Merri-bek, and so this is incredibly frustrating," she said.
Luke said the project, which involved raising the tracks and station above ground level, had proven controversial but did not suspect a resident who opposed the project to be responsible.
New recreational spaces created as part of the project have been a big hit with the community, with Australian Institute of Architects Victorian manager Daniel Moore telling the Herald Sun the area redeveloped near Coburg station was now "lovely" and had the work had "completely changed the whole area".
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