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Solar Panel Installed at Forest Hills Bioswale, Intriguing Locals

 A new solar panel  has recently been installed at a bioswale in Forest Hills.
A new solar panel has recently been installed at a bioswale in Forest Hills.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

QUEENS — The city recently installed a solar panel on a bioswale in Forest Hills to power equipment collecting data on its performance — sparking locals' curiosity.

The device was installed several weeks ago at the rainwater-collecting bioswale near Queens Boulevard and 66th Avenue, close to the Rego Park border.

When Michael Perlman, a local historian and activist, posted a photo of it on a neighborhood Facebook page, it generated numerous comments. 

“What does this do?” asked one group member. 

“What is getting powered?” wrote another.

"Observatory station to collect data about the bioswale?," yet another said.

The city has installed about a dozen such solar panels, including the one in Forest Hills, at bioswales throughout the city, which collect and absorb storm water and prevent overflow. 

The city added the solar panels at various at various locations to “power equipment that is collecting data on the performance of the curbside rain garden” to determine their efficiency, explained Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Douglas Auer.

“They will monitor storm water going in and out of the curbside rain garden,” he added.

Perlman said that since 2013, he has been requesting sites to add bioswales and new trees in Rego Park and Forest Hills. 

"Bioswales promote longevity of the trees, since their root systems have increased space and oxygen for growth, rather than being compressed by traditional tree pits," Perlman said. 

But some Facebook users said that bioswales "seem to be garbage accumulators."  

"I hope the city and property owners will dedicate more time towards their upkeep," Perlman noted.

READ MOREResidents Say Bioswales Would Bring Mosquitoes to Forest Hills