On Woodhaven Boulevard, flowers serve a greater purpose than mere eye candy. They save lives and revitalize businesses.
On Monday, Oct. 28, Councilman Eric Ulrich revealed his collaborative project with the Department of Transportation, the Woodhaven BID and the Queens Botanical Garden in Woodhaven to install 15 barrel-sized planters along the pedestrian crossings near the Woodhaven Boulevard J train station.
The agencies are installing the project months after a man was struck and killed by a motorist less than a half a mile south on Woodhaven Boulevard in July. Ulrich is hoping that the planters fulfill two roles: to make walkers feel safer and encourage them to shop along the transit hub. The bright eggplant-colored planters highlight the borders of pedestrian refuge islands separating the boulevard’s car and bus lanes.
“I love this vase. It just pops. It really stands out from the grays of the everything around it,” Ulrich said while admiring the flowers.
Raquel Olivares, the executive director at the Woodhaven BID, is hoping that new flowers will create an ambiance that will encourage foot traffic along Jamaica Boulevard.
Ulrich’s office provided $40,000 to complete the project. The Queens Botanical Garden, which is in charge of setting up the planters and watering them for the first year, said that 12 to 13 will be completed by the end of the week, and the last couple will be added in the spring.
“This is a council member that loves plants. He loves people, plants and community,” Susan Lacerte, the executive director of the Queens Botanical Garden, said of Ulrich.
Beyond its practical purposes, the project also revealed that Ulrich has a green thumb. The councilman said that he inherited a love of gardening from his grandmother and added that he tends to the tree and flowers in front of his office. “I’m very protective of plants in New York City,” said Ulrich.
The new planters will hold a combination of shrubs and flowers including dogwood and lilac and perennials like geraniums, lady’s mantle and creeping jenny. Carlos Espinal, the Botanical Garden coordinator in charge of the projects, said that he was looking to bring color to the neighborhood while working with hardy plants that wouldn’t need to be replaced.
“I think when people drive past these planters, they’re going to smile,” said Ulrich.