The Jamaica Center BID, in collaboration with the Southeast Queens Cleanup Initiative, hosted a community cleanup and beautification event at Parsons Public Space in downtown Jamaica on Sunday, June 13.
Parsons Public Space was constructed by the NYC Department of Transportation several years ago as a temporary public space, and is scheduled to become a permanent public plaza after additional work by the city’s Department of Design and Construction is completed.
Although Parsons Public Space does not fall within the Jamaica Center BID’s boundaries, the BID decided to coordinate a cleanup and beautification initiative this summer due to its prominent location and importance to the community.
Jennifer Furioli, Jamaica BID’s executive director, said they noticed that many of the original shrubs in the 35 planters at Parsons died or toppled over, and no decorative greenery or flowers remained.
“Parsons Public Space is one of Jamaica Avenue’s ‘front yards’ and first impressions for those coming to shop,” Furioli said. “By providing a clean sweep to remove litter and planting some new greenery, we hope to provide a better experience this summer for downtown Jamaica’s returning workers and shoppers as we fully reopen downtown for business.”
This is the second community cleanup event the BID has done in collaboration with the SEQ Cleanup Initiative, a new grassroots nonprofit that engages local volunteers to assist with picking up litter in local parks, potting and planting in local community gardens, as well as helping with painting of murals to add to the beautification of southeast Queens.
The first event, a “side street cleanup” last December, removed litter from the highly trafficked 162nd Street, a side street leading from a popular parking lot to Jamaica Avenue, in order to give shoppers a more positive first impression as they approached downtown for holiday shopping.
“SEQ Cleanup’s mission is to inspire southeast Queens residents to ‘do their part’ to be proactive when it comes to the revitalization and beautification of this community. When we all do our part, we are one step closer to reaching our intended goal,” said Antoinette “DJ Nett” Lawson, founder of SEQ Cleanup Initiative.
Additional community partners involved in the event included Alana Simmons, founder and owner of Linden Studio 17 in St. Albans, who provided project management and promotional support for the event.
Cambria Heights Florist provided expertise and guidance on the planting portion of the event, and the 103rd Precinct’s Community Affairs Division also participated.
The Home Depot store, located at 92-30 at 168th St., donated soil and cleaning supplies for the event, while three restaurants in front of Parsons Public Space — Golden Krust, Popeyes and Dunkin’ Donuts — provided meals for the volunteers. The flowers and greenery will be watered during the summer by the adjacent landlord, Mattone Investors.
“This is truly a community-led initiative with established and new nonprofits, local business, property owners and everyday volunteers pitching in to make this happen,” Furioli said. “We’re thrilled to work with SEQ Cleanup again and are grateful to Linden Studios and Cambria Heights Florist for their community leadership in this particular event.”
Additionally, volunteers will begin construction on a Little Reading Library, which the coordinators of the event hope to install near Rufus King Park later this summer. The BID expects to clean up Parsons Public space again in the fall and to do other activities thanks to a recent grant received by the JFK International Air Terminal.