FoHi underpass to be brightened up 1

The underpass below the Long Island Rail Road tracks on Yellowstone Boulevard in Forest Hills — where litter and heavily damaged vehicles often line the street — will be much more aesthetically pleasing in the fall, when a new mural is painted there.

The Yellowstone Boulevard underpass below the Long Island Rail Road tracks can be a spooky place to walk through at night.

Not only is it poorly lit — overhanging vegetation at the entrance to the underpass closest to Burns Street adds to the darkness — but heavily damaged vehicles involved in police investigations often line the boulevard.

But Yvonne Shortt of the Rego Park Green Alliance and a few dozen allies are looking to change that.

“It’s our biggest concern with that area, the cars that just sit there for months on end,” Shortt told the Chronicle in a Tuesday interview. “And this project, a huge component of it, is starting a conversation to get this place cleaned up.”

Shortt and fellow neighborhood activists have painted a number of complex murals throughout the area, including one along the wall of the underpass on 63rd Drive between Austin and Alderton streets in Rego Park.

In addition to vibrant painted trees and foliage, that one also features a handful of panels featuring vintage-looking photographs taken throughout the neighborhood.

And in Forest Hills, she hopes to do something very similar.

The mural under design will include four panels with each bearing a word — love, respect, tolerance and resilience — translated into multiple languages, along with drawings of fruits and vegetables significant in the cuisines of the neighborhood’s many cultures.

The artwork aims to showcase the diverse ethnicities that help make up Forest Hills, Shortt said.

“We are a very divided country right now,” she told the Chronicle. “That’s why we’re looking at ways to bring people together and celebrate our differences.”

In the weeks since she announced plans for the mural — funded in part by the nonprofit Citizens Committee for New York City, which provided $2,700 towards the project — Shortt says she’s received hundreds of suggestions from community members about what languages and food to feature.

And because of the influx of comments, she plans on including new translations of the four words every four months.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., Shortt and a few dozen volunteers will meet at the 112th Precinct — located just feet from the underpass — to create stencils of the fruits and vegetables that will be included on the mural.

At 2:30 p.m., the group will then head to the underpass to clean up litter and overgrown vegetation.

To reserve one of the handful of spots remaining for Sunday’s event, log onto

A number of other discussions and cleanups will be held throughout the summer, as Shortt anticipates the mural will be added to the underpass wall in September.

“These are the kinds of the projects I really enjoy doing,” she said. “I hope to continue to show what’s possible with our walls when we look at them as tools for beautification and vehicles for discussing important issues.”

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