JACKSON HEIGHTS — Locals with ideas for the future of a historic 17th century burial ground can brainstorm while breaking bread at weekend potlucks in August.
The Leverich Cemetery — which dates back to settlers from the 1600s — has been the focus of cleanups by community groups, but now organizations are working toward reclaiming the long-abandoned space for the neighborhood.
"Trying to create alternative spaces for the community is a good opportunity for us as parents, to think in a creative way," said Carlos Martinez, co-founder of the Híbridos Collective that is running the weekly potlucks, which begin Aug. 1.
The project is partially funded by the Citizens Community for New York City and Queens Council on the Arts and is meant to connect people in Jackson Heights.
Like the locally sourced map they released last week, finding places for neighbors to meet is important to the art collective, Martinez said.
"We've already heard ideas about creating a meditation garden, a space for passive recreation, community meetings," he said.
Carlos Martinez at Leverich Cemetery. (Hibridos Collective)
Other people have suggested creating space for murals and to hang temporary art, all while respecting the historical and sacred nature of the spot.
The burial ground, which is accessed on 35th Avenue behind Legends Bar, was part of the home of William Leverich, who lived there when the neighborhood was called Train's Meadow.
The tombstones are long gone, but a descendant of the family has given his blessing to repurpose the space for the community, Martinez said.
"We need spaces for the people to meet each other," he said.
Volunteers at Leverich Cemetery during a cleanup. (Hibridos Collective)
The potluck will begin at 11 a.m. and guests are encouraged to bring snacks and drinks to fuel the brainstorming session.
The entrance to the space is between Legends Bar and the Animal Hospital on 35th Avenue and 71st Street. For more information, visit their website.