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.”