On Monday, Councilman Eric Ulrich, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Queens Botanical Garden (QBG) announced a new project to install 15 planters along Woodhaven Boulevard from 86th Road to 88th Avenue.
“We’re really trying to add some green, beautiful space to the concrete jungle,” said Ulrich, who funded the installations. “A very busy place where I think it’s really needed.”
QBG will maintain the planters over the next year. After that, the planters will be permanently adopted by the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (BID).
“I think it’s a brilliant project that makes improvements for the residents who live here and the businesses,” said Susan Lacerte, QBG’s executive director.
There will be a number of plant species within the 15 planters, including Yucca Color Guards, Dwarf Manchurian Lilacs and Juniper Blue Stars.
The planters are also filled out with perennials like Liriope Big Blue, Sedum Stonecrop Autumn Joy and Lady’s Mantle, according to Ulrich’s office.
“We have very resilient, colorful plants,” said Carlos Miguel Espinal, a horticulture associate with QBG. “We don’t have to worry about replacing them all the time.”
Raquel Olivares, executive director of the Woodhaven BID, said the organization understands how important these projects are for neighborhoods and local merchants.
“For us, they not only add beauty and color,” she said. “It’s amazing what a few planters can do in a space like this. In fact, we’ve been getting positive feedback from the community.
“This is something we hope we can expand later on to Jamaica Avenue to attract foot traffic,” Olivares added. “Not only that, but attract more businesses to our district.”
The south Queens councilman said these types of planters were first installed last year on Broad Channel as a pilot program. They not only add aesthetic beauty to an area, but also play a larger role in community revitalization.
“They’re not low enough to the ground to get damaged by the salt from water or exhaust from cars,” Ulrich said. “The fact that they’re a little higher up allows them the ability to survive better.”
For Deputy Queens DOT Commissioner Jason Banrey, the planters are one component to beautify the Woodhaven Boulevard corridor.
The planters are placed on median tip extensions, which will eventually be built in concrete. They provide safety for pedestrians crossing the highly-used boulevard.
“It shortens the crossing distance,” Banrey said. “Not only does this design do that, but the planters add a protective calming measure to vehicles that are coming into the approach.’
DOT is currently in talks with QBG on possibly implementing similar planters in the Howard Beach and Lindenwood areas by the co-ops, Banrey said.
Ulrich, who professed to have a love for plants and a “green thumb,” said growing up his grandmother had a beautiful garden in the backyard. The councilman also takes care of a tree pit in front of his office.
“In a big city like New York, the more we can introduce green space in urban communities, the better off we are,” he said.
He predicted that when drivers notice the planters, they’re going to smile and like what they see.
“They’re going to feel good about the place where they live and work,” Ulrich added. “It’s all about quality of life and helping people appreciate their surroundings.”