Jackson Heights residents planning a greener nabe
by Stephanie Baez
Nov 17, 2009 | 3533 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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A major metamorphosis awaits the diverse community of Jackson Heights, and it is all in control of the residents themselves, a relatively bold and new concept.

On November 7, members of the Queens Community House, Friends of Travers Park, and the Pratt Center for Community Development hosted a “visioning screening” to "Go Green” for local residents of Jackson Heights at the Renaissance Charter School.

The visioning screening unveiled some intended goals of the Green Agenda, such as improving air quality and housing conditions, reducing traffic congestion, and opening more public space locations for parks and recreational purposes.

The Pratt Center for Community Development is a privately funded 45-year-old research and development organization whose main focus is to rebuild lower socio-economic and poorly planned New York City neighborhoods in an environmentally sound manner based on the requests and ideas of the actual residents themselves. They have constructed workbooks that are intended to strategize and formulate guidelines for community rejuvenation and planning.

Over 100 local residents attended the workshop and participated in the events. State Senator Hiram Monserrate and representatives for assemblymen Jose Peralta and Michael DanDekker, and Congressman Joseph Crowley were also present at the workshop, amongst attendees that varied in all ages and different ethnicities. Spanish and Bengali translators were also present to ensure no communication lapses and equal participation.

Pratt Center administrators and moderators were on hand to ensure the workbooks were properly completed so adequate research was collected. Attendees and Pratt moderators went through the workbooks to gather constituent input on local school systems, community organizations, religious institutions, and other areas of both positive and negative concern for the community.

Anna Dioguardi, a representative of the Queens Community House, hopes to increase community participation and attendance at the workshops through word of mouth and flyers distributed by a limited volunteer staff.

“We want to create different ways for people to participate. We mostly rely on people spreading the word themselves,” said an enthusiastic Dioguardi, who also mentioned possibly extending the workshops past their original deadline of February to incorporate more community interest and gather more solid research.

By posting the flyer and information on hyper-local websites, Dioguardi hopes to widen research criteria and increase interactive contribution from area residents. Through the Queens Community House, which serves 11 Queens Communities with a myriad of free programs for all ages, and other local organizations, Dioguardi said, “I want to show that the community does care and wants change.”

Friends of Travers Park, a community organization that focuses on maintaining and preserving the Jackson Heights park located at 77th Street and Northern Boulevard, have committed themselves to future tree plantings and maintenance and helped launch this Green Agenda. Jackson Heights has one of the lowest amount of park space in the city, especially considering the high population of children in the community.

Between now and February, these workshops will be conducted to unite hundreds of community residents to influence and reprioritize the intended grant money from the City of New York to create a brighter, greener, more beautiful community for present and future residents to come. For more information, visit www.queenscommunityhouse.org.

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