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Adopt-a-Planter Aims to Beautify First Avenue's Drab Pedestrian Islands

 The planting beds along First Avenue are in need of beautification, residents say.
City Council Member Kallos to Launch Adopt-a-Planter Program
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Upper East Side — Park Avenue is known for its lush green malls and vibrant planting beds. Now, City Councilmember Ben Kallos is trying to help another Upper East Side avenue get the same kind of TLC.

After hearing concerns from constituents about neglected planting beds along First Avenue, Kallos is proposing a program in which residents and community organizations will adopt the planters along the avenue from the Queensboro Bridge to 125th Street in an effort to beautify the busy street.

The planting beds are a part of a protected bike lane created by the Department of Transportation  in 2012 and 2013. They serve to separate automobile traffic from bike riders as part of a pedestrian island at each intersection.

Since the islands were installed, many of the planting beds have deteriorated, critics say. Many of them are filled with gravel and weeds or, worse, have become dumping grounds for litter and dog waste. A few of the planting beds have small flags announcing that a tree will be planted there soon as a part of the city’s Million Trees NYC initiative.

Marina Sisakian, who has lived in the area for 17 years, said she hadn’t noticed the planting beds before, but was in favor of the plan to improve them.

“It would be nice if they’d put in plants. The more green the better,” she said. “I’m a psychiatrist. It makes people happy to see nature.”

Kallos’s office will work the Department of Transportation to coordinate the project. They are planning to hold a forum in mid-May to discuss the idea with residents.