Tag Archives: Federated Blocks of Laurelton

Laurelton homeowners continue to keep their streets looking beautiful

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Robert Glover

It began as a beautification contest four decades ago, but continues today as a matter of neighborhood pride.

Using largely their own resources, the residents of Laurelton have worked hard to maintain center medians on their streets as small parks featuring flowers of all different varieties.

The center malls are public property, but weren’t properly maintained during the early 1970s, as Sandra Chase of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton (FBL) recalled. The strips of grass were prone to litterbugs and dog owners who failed to clean up after their pets.

Property owners then entered a citywide contest to beautify their community and, in the years since, have used their own time and money to continue to keep the malls beautiful, Chase said.

“The residents decided to just take over the malls in front of their homes,” she recalled. “We started to clean them up and plant flowers. At that time, we won cash awards for these improvements [but] that kind of work just stuck around.”

In many instances, Chase said, blocks of homeowners pay a gardener to cut the grass regularly and organize in the spring to purchase and then plant flowers of their choice in the malls. Throughout the year, groups of volunteers also work on weekends to remove weeds and debris that gather at each location.

Some blocks, she observed, “have started to fall down” a bit, but the civic group is looking to give them a boost. The FBL also regularly maintains a small garden created in front of a welcome sign at the corner of Merrick and Francis Lewis boulevards.

Despite the time and labor involved, the effort aims to “keep your neighborhood beautiful and make your neighborhood look presentable,” Chase said.

“Everybody chips in,” she said. “On some of the blocks where they have the long malls in front of their homes, they plant the flowers they want.”


$50G allocated for the Doe Fund to help clean up Merrick Boulevard

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The “offensive to take back Merrick Boulevard” has begun.

Councilmember Donovan Richards has allocated $50,000 for the Doe Fund to work through the district, beautifying its trash-ridden streets.

The Doe Fund is a nonprofit that helps formerly homeless, incarcerated and/or troubled individuals achieve self-sufficiency by providing transitional work, housing, life skills and more.

Its hope is to break the cycle of homelessness, addiction and criminal recidivism.

The Doe Fund’s flagship program, Ready Willing & Able, currently cleans more than 150 miles of city streets every day as a transitional employment opportunity for participants.

Now, the crew has come to Laurelton and two people will work Fridays and Sundays, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., on Merrick Boulevard from 219th Street to Francis Lewis Boulevard.

“Certain days, it looks like a pigsty on this boulevard and it does not reflect the beauty of this community,” Richards said.

“I want to be very clear that although I’m funding this program, sanitation still has a job to do – to ensure storeowners are keeping their storefronts clean,” he added. “We are not going to subsidize you being lazy.”

Members of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton said they have voluntarily tried to clean the boulevard themselves but “it’s a stretch,” and they “appreciate” the Doe Fund’s presence.

Richards hopes to gradually extend the program through his district and also spruce up the area’s “green streets” and regulate parking – all with the hopes to enhance area business and improve overall quality of life.



City Council candidates meet in public forums as special election draws closer

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The race is on, and candidates for the 31st City Council District are sprinting through a series of public forums.

“We want to know their vision for the community,” said Dwight Johnson, president of the Federated Blocks of Laurelton.

Nine candidates have filed to run for Councilmember-turned-Senator James Sanders’ seat: Jacques Leandre, Michael Duncan, Donovan Richards, Selvena Brooks, Saywalah Kesselly, Marie Adam-Ovide, Earnest Flowers, Pesach Osina and Allan Jennings.

The Laurelton civic association hosted one of five public forums in which each candidate was given the opportunity to answer questions directly from the community.

Osina, Flowers and Jennings were not present, but the six attending candidates made clear their stance on each issue.
Flooding, a rampant problem throughout the district, is something that each candidate knows needs to be fixed, but each has different proposals on how to do so.

“We are living on top of water,” said Duncan. “Unless we dredge the area, nothing will change.”

Brooks believes the solution lies with rebuilding the sewer system’s infrastructure. Kesselly, on the other hand, thinks the area should first have a systematic analysis, and from there funds can be properly allocated to fixing the flooding.

Many residents were concerned about how the district’s education system was going to improve, and Leandre, for one, believes that partnering with local enterprises could benefit students and get them career-ready.

Adam-Ovide, Community Board 8 District Manager, sees a future with smaller class sizes, and more after-school and internship programs. Richards, Sanders’ former chief-of-staff, would like to invest in schools long-term, providing more technology and library resources. Duncan, former PTA president and community activist, believes that more parent involvement is the key, and that the community needs to look within to fix the problems.

When it came to topics such as stop-and-frisk, all candidates were against the controversial policy, and believed it unfairly targeted their young people.

“We need to find a better way to combat crime in the community,” said Leandre.

On the topic of police programs, all candidates also agreed that an extra precinct presence in southeast Queens is necessary.

“We want the theme here to be making progress together,” said one resident.

The special election for the 31st District will be held Tuesday, February 19.