QUEENS — A mural featuring a neighborhood map will soon replace graffiti tags covering the walls of an old Long Island Rail Road overpass on the border of Forest Hills and Rego Park.
The mural was designed by a group of high school students attending The Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Astoria, who are currently painting it on Fleet Street, between Thornton Place and Alderton Street.
The school requires its 11th graders to complete a project that would show their creativity and also engage local community, the group said.
Most of the six students working on the project live in the Forest Hills and Rego Park area so they thought a mural marking the border between the two neighborhoods would be a good idea.
“This is the geographical border between Rego Park and Forest Hills," said Alice Aronov who came up with the design and worked on the project with five other students: Gracelyn Chen, Natalia Blagic, David Pamintuan, Meesha Ryan and Anielka Espinosa.
The rundown overpass belongs to the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line which has been abandoned since the 1960s. In the future, it could become part of the proposed QueensWay.
"A lot of times when people come by to our homes, they can never find out where anything is because of how the geography is placed so we decided to make a map and to signify the border there,” Aronov added.
Alice Aronov (left) and Gracelyn Chen are among the six students working on the Fleet Street mural which will replace old graffiti tags with a neighborhood map. (Photo: Courtesy of Yvonne Shortt)
In order to raise about $1,000 to buy the supplies necessary to paint the mural, the group held a fundraiser at the nearby the Forest Hills Youth Athletic Association, collecting donations from local parents.
They also organized bake sales at their school, set up a GoFundMe page, and reached out for help to the Rego Park Green Alliance Studio, a local nonprofit focused on community projects, which gave them $250.
Hoping to engage local residents, the students posted fliers in the area, inviting those willing to help to join them.
“Their project is really important because these youth work to grow our community,” said Yvonne Shortt, executive director of the RPGA Studio.
The students began painting the mural earlier this week and hope to complete it by Friday.
Aronov said that as they were painting, dozens of residents, including families with children, stopped by to help and support them.
“It’s very nice to feel that what we are doing helps the community,” she said.