This past Saturday, the Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association was pleased to unveil a brand new sign welcoming people to our neighborhood. The “Welcome To Whitestone” sign, located on Francis Lewis Boulevard and Locke Avenue has been a project 3 years in the making. The following is a little history of how this project began.
My name is Devon Michael O’Connor. I am the President of The Welcome To Whitestone Civic Association. Back in September of 2009, I contacted then Councilman Tony Avella with an idea to form a community fundraising project to replace the aging “Welcome To Whitestone” sign on Francis Lewis Boulevard. Councilman Avella was extremely helpful in connecting me with the appropriate city agencies responsible for supervising the project. The lead agency, the NYC Parks Department contacted Councilman Avella with a letter stating that I have been authorized to replace the sign. The total cost of this project (sign, installation and permits) was estimated at $5,500.
The first step of this project was raising the funds needed to replace the sign. I then reached out to the local Whitestone business community and was pleased with their support and enthusiasm towards this fundraising effort. Once all of the money was raised, the sign went into production.
Unfortunately, working with the Parks Department and city agencies is a long, detailed process involving necessary permits and authorizations needed to get the job done. Fortunately, within that waiting period, I have met and worked with some wonderful people that I am proud to now call my friends. There has been no greater friend and supporter of this project then the staff at Garden Works and it’s founder, my friend Sal Bacarella!
Mr. Sal Bacarella, President and CEO of Garden Works, a local landscape design and management company, contacted me applauding my fundraising efforts and offered to donate the landscaping, labor, materials and installation of the new “Welcome To Whitestone” sign. In addition, his company secured the necessary permits that were needed to have the sign installed and enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come.
You may be reading this and thinking “wow that’s nice, Whitestone has a new sign” but that is not the overall message of this story. The point I am trying to get across is that if we all work together, we can accomplish great things.
I was a 17 year old high-school student that was unhappy with the deteriorating, weather beaten sign that welcomed people to my neighborhood. I had an idea and took it from there. Has it been an easy process? No, but being persistent, having a positive outlook and a defined goal lead to a very rewarding conclusion that I am happy to share with my community.
The entire town of Whitestone, Queens welcomes you. Stop by and say hello!