Come this summer, Ridgewood residents will not even recognize the impromptu landfill along Shaler Avenue.
A western Queens civic organization that recently received $6,000 in grant and support money has designated two weekends to cleaning up the strip of once-thriving foliage next to the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The swath of trees and shrubs has long been a haven for refuse like old televisions, empty bottles of liquor and derelict shopping carts.
“Unless we make a permanent change, it’s always going to invite illegal dumping,” said Mary Parisen of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions.
The money will be spent on tools to help revitalize the area, but the actual work is up to the community.
On April 9, residents are invited to help clear out the trash that has accumulated in the area, then on April 30 they can help plant flowers and trees to take the place of that garbage. The celebration will take place May 14.
And some of the revitalization has already taken place.
The city Department of Transportation replaced a heavily graffitied sign and has commissioned a streetlight study for the avenue, which will eventually lead to the installation of two additional lights.
The city Sanitation Department has also helped by increasing its presence and pledging to keep an eye on the area, according to Parisen.
And the city and members of the community have pledged support for the project as well.
The city Parks Department will be on hand during the two April clean-up sessions to donate tools, private construction companies will be out with serious dirt-moving equipment and students from Hunter College in Manhattan will be doing plenty of dirty work.
The avenue might eventually be a nice place to take a stroll, according to Parisen, who said that the office of City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has requested a sidewalk as well.
A notorious rival of CURES will also collaborate in cleaning up the railroad corridor. New York & Atlantic, the company that the civic often blasts for harmful railroad practices, will assist in cleaning up garbage from the corridor.
“It’s part of a public-private partnership,” Parisen said. “It’s their property along with Waste Management.”
The money was provided by Citizens Committee for New York City and various organizations throughout the city.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2011 Community News Group
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