One man’s vision and hard work has helped transform a community eyesore into a beautiful garden.
George Negoescu, a Ridgewood resident, took it upon himself to clean up the often dirty and unkempt corner at Shaler Avenue and Cypress Hills Street and plant flowers for everyone in the community to enjoy.
The site, which sits just outside a freight train underpass, is near a parking area for the 104th Precinct but also attracted illegal dumpers and litter. Negoescu saw much more potential for the area.
“It was an abandoned area, a garbage collection area with unsanitary conditions,” Negoescu said. “So I paved the soil and made it part of the sidewalk. It is a hotspot for our neighborhood. It is along the path to Stop & Shop, which gets heavy use, and it is a link between Glendale and Ridgewood.”
To begin his project, Negoescu first had to remove all the rubbish from the dirt hill. His next step was to get rid of all the plants that were previously at the site.
“To do this I needed to pull up all the wild flowers and weeds and trees,” Negoescu explained. “Then I gave shape to the hill which wasn’t suitable to plant on in the condition it was in.”
This is not the first work Negoescu has done in this area. Seven years ago he took it upon himself to plant a row of willow trees further down Shaler Avenue.
“I cleaned it up and decided to fix up the area because it bothered me that this was in my neighborhood, so I decided to do something. I wanted to bring color and form to this crowded area.”
After the cleanup and formation of the hill, Negoescu began planting flowers with the help of Harry Muller, another Ridgewood resident with more than 50 years of landscaping experience.
“I helped George with the appropriate plant selection and the best aesthetic arrangement of the plants considering the terrain,” Muller said. “We are hoping to put in woodchips, mulch and we’re going to put in seasonal plants for the winter season.”
Since starting this project six weeks ago, Negoescu has spent nearly $1,500 of his own money, but says he has been more than repaid from the ample gratitude he receives from passersby when they see him working on the garden. He has also already seen a decrease in trash and litter being dumped in the area.
“The community has donated tools and over 200 plant bulbs already,” Negoescu said. “I invited community members or organizations to help donate more flowers or labor to help maintain the area. And I hope this will encourage similar beautification projects in the neighborhood.”