With the old mural underneath the 63rd Drive Long Island Rail Road underpass in Rego Park fading away, plans for a new, more elaborate design are taking shape.
The Rego Park Green Alliance is planning to replace the aging mural painted by area children in 2009 with up to six new 4-by-6-foot boards attached to the underpass wall, containing photographs taken by Rego Park residents detailing the neighborhood’s past, present and future.
The process of remodeling the underpass will begin in January and is expected to be completed in June.
Rego Park Green Alliance Executive Director Yvonne Shortt sees the new design’s birth as something that can help bring about change in the community, much like the original mural did four years ago.
“The real story is not the faded mural; it’s that the mural brought about so much change around the underpass,” Shortt, a Rego Park resident herself, said. “We hope the new design will be a catalyst for change throughout Queens.”
In 2009, the LIRR underpass was transformed from dirty and dingy into something that had flair, as evidenced by the bright red and orange mural that read “REal GOod.”
Shortt says that, with the help of cooperating nearby businesses, the painting of the first mural by 250 area students helped transform the pedestrian walkway.
“People threw their garbage and food and even tires there. For years, it was really gross,” she said. “We worked with the small businesses from either side to clean up the garbage from their markets. The DOT paved the sidewalk. We got it done.”
Because the mural was painted with water-based paint, moisture from the concrete wall has caused it to significantly fade from its past eye-popping glory.
Beginning in January, the first phase of the design will include residents signing up on the Rego Park Green Alliance’s website to attend one of the 20 planned meetings, where they can sign out a camera provided by the group to take pictures of the area.
In May, painting over the old mural with grey, oil-based paint will begin. The painting will be done by 40 to 50 adults because Shortt says she “wouldn’t want kids dealing with the oil-based paint.”
In June, the pictures taken by residents will be added to the three boards and, along with three-dimensional redesigns of what Rego Park might look like in the future, will be attached to the freshly painted wall.
According to Shortt, the LIRR, which owns the wall of the underpass, has approved the project and will even supply the paint.
The project will cost around $10,000, according to Shortt, and will be funded by donations and sponsorships that the non-profit group is attempting to secure.
Once completed, Shortt hopes that the beautification process of this LIRR underpass and potentially others throughout the borough will help showcase the originality and beauty of Queens.
“I think Queens is very special and we have an opportunity to grow,” she said. “We want not to emulate Manhattan or Brooklyn, but to be our own center of beauty.”