A long neglected stretch of Shaler Avenue in Glendale’s Farmers Oval neighborhood finally has some new life. A group of volunteers, organized by Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), spent the day tilling the strip of park adjacent to the Fresh Pond rail line planting dozens of various shrubberies.
The avenue’s revitalization has been in the planning for more than a year, and the volunteer effort to clean the site began on April 9 with a group of more than 40 volunteers from the community.
On April 30, volunteers returned to begin grooming the site and planting. The final step of the project will be a celebration of Shaler Avenue on May 14; any final work will also be completed that day.
“Our communities are determined to stop and reverse the degradation of properties in and around the rail corridor,” said CURES Co-Chair Mary Parisen. “This improves public health, quality of life, and property values. The Farmers Oval project demonstrates that cleaning and greening these properties is an achievable goal that can be accomplished with limited resources if all stakeholders pitch in.”
The clean-up, a collaborative project involving CURES, Farmers Oval Civic Association, Queens Community Board 5 and many other civic organization, received funding from Citizens Committee for the city ($1,000 LOVE YOUR BLOCK grant) and from Waste Management ($5,000 in Keep America Beautiful grants). The city Parks Division of Forestry, DSNY, NYC DOT, LIRR/MTA, NY & Atlantic Railway and Grow NYC, all provided support.
Gardener Henry Muller, a Farmers Oval resident, provided his expertise and labor in landscape design and selection of the plants, which he picked up in the wee hours of Saturday morning, before rushing to return the rented van.
“There’s an important balance to strike when you select the plants, because you need something that will thrive naturally,” he said. “Even if no one takes care of them, the plants will be successful.”
“If the street looks nice, people will take care of it,” he added.
by David J. Harvey