Local business owner frustrated over vandalism to her shop during Lilac Festival

The owner of The Artful Gardener came to her shop on the last weekend of the Lilac Festival to find someone had vandalized her front door. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - One business owner in Rochester is relieved the Lilac Festival has now wrapped up. The owner of The Artful Gardener came to her shop on the last weekend of the event to find someone had vandalized her front door.

Owner Jean Westcott said this time was the final straw. She took to Facebook on Sunday to air her frustration.

A board now covers up the damage to her shop on Mt. Hope Avenue.

“The whole glass looks like a big spider web of cracks,” said Westcott.

Sometime after she closed Saturday evening, Westcott said a vandal kicked her front door, shattering the glass.

“The whole footprint is still there on the glass," she said. "It's a meaningless, senseless act of vandalism that didn't need to happen."

Sunday’s incident isn't the first time Westcott has had issues, saying problems always stem from the Lilac Festival. Her shop's a few hundred yards from the park's entrance.

Westcott said, each year, the festival is a burden on her and the neighborhood.

"I've had people leave their cars in the parking lot before, where I’ve had to stay here late, waiting for them to return,” she said. “That's a minor nuisance to the year I've had my nose broken."

Westcott said she's also had her cell phone stolen.

"It's actually the 10 days a year I actually dread being here," she said.

Essence Jackson lives in neighborhood and was surprised to see what happened.

"I was just shocked, because I've been living here and haven't seen any vandalism at all,” Jackson said. “When I looked at it, I was like, wow."

Louis Cecere also noticed the damage. He's been to the shop before.

"I think it's a shame things like that happen. Hopefully everything else is fine for her," Cecere said. “I think it's people who are careless and angry.”

The fix is an added expense Westcott said will cost her upwards of $1,000, but said she's just lucky it wasn't worse.

"One person, two people, some bad actors coming into the neighborhood once a year - that's not going to change what this place is about," said Westcott.

Rochester Police tell 13WHAM they're looking into the reported vandalism. Police said three Disorderly Conduct Arrests were made during the festival.

The County Parks Department Director Larry Staub said each year, it looks at ways to fix problems from previous festivals and holds meetings with neighbors.

In a statement, Staub said:

Monroe County is proud to work closely with the City of Rochester, the Rochester Lilac Festival organizing committee and the Festival Producer to host one of our state’s preeminent public festivals, which attracts 500,000 visitors and makes a $3 million economic impact annually. The organizing committee annually hosts a meeting with neighbors, stakeholders and businesses prior to the festival, which was held on May 2 this year. A post-festival survey is conducted, as well. We appreciate the work that the Rochester Police Department does to patrol the surrounding neighborhoods and we are grateful that so many residents and families enjoyed another beautiful Lilac Festival this year.
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