Tired of waiting for the MTA to improve the Flushing Long Island Rail Road station, the community is taking matters into its own hands.
John Choe, the executive director of the One Flushing Community Economic Development Center, is organizing volunteers to clean up the trash-filled area and paint a mural — the first new public mural in Flushing in over a decade — to call attention to the community’s infrastructure needs.
“For over a decade the MTA has promised to modernize the station,” Choe said, citing the graffiti, which detracts from the station’s appearance; the poor lighting, which is hazardous at night; and the lack of an elevator, which makes the station inaccessible to seniors, people with disabilities and parents with small children.
“We’re hoping to pressure the MTA,” Choe said. “We hope for them to see the community taking action to beautify the space and transform it into something different from what it looks like now. We don’t want to wait another 10 years.”
The mural, which will be below the westbound side of the tracks, on Main Street and 40th Avenue, will not be on MTA property, but on the wall of a privately owned building at the entrance to the platform. One Flushing will maintain the mural, Choe said.
One Flushing is working with mural artist Sandra Fabara, also known as Lady Pink, whose work can be seen throughout Queens and at museums all over the world.
The mural will feature a street festival scene, incorporating the Unisphere and towers from the World’s Fairs, which took place in nearby Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and represent Flushing’s international community.
Lady Pink said there will be flying dragons and panda bears in the mural.
A group of 20 to 30 people have already volunteered to paint the mural and Choe said that anyone of any age is welcome to join.
One Flushing is reviewing Lady Pink’s conceptual drawings and Choe said he hopes to finalize the design within the next week, so that painting can start by the end of August.
One Flushing already has $3,000 and Choe hopes to raise an additional $3,500 by crowdfunding on Indiegogo.com, an online platform where anyone can donate to the project.
Major sponsors who donate $500 or more will be allowed to have their name or business logo in the mural.
“If we don’t address issues that have a direct impact on the small-business community, we’re killing the golden goose,” Choe said, noting that Flushing has grown rapidly in the past few decades, even during the economic recession, but the infrastructure, which many small businesses depend on to bring customers and visitors to the area, has not kept up.
“It’s the government’s responsibility,” Choe said. “They can’t just approve thousands of units of additional housing without adding transportation, education and sewers. They’re taking advantage of the business community, when they should be supporting small businesses here.
“But this is not about waiting for the government to do things for us,” he added. “We can start changing our community for the better ourselves.”
Choe said he hopes the project will also raise the profile of Flushing’s artistic community, which will in turn help local businesses.
Lady Pink said she has painted murals at Flushing Hospital, in its community art garden and outside the No. 7 train yard, called “Alien Story Teller.”
“We’re hoping to instill some community pride in Flushing,” she said. “Flushing doesn’t really have public art, just signs, signs, signs everywhere. It’s time to put some personality into it.”