Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Renegade bus shelter project!

From the Queens Chronicle:

Residents gained useful skills and a chance to know their neighbors as many teamed up for a small-scale public project to install benches at Jamaica bus stops.

“In this recession, we were upset that the stimulus didn’t go directly to people who needed it most. So, since the government hasn’t brought the WPA back, we will,” said Christopher Robbins, outreach officer with the Work Projects Administration-2010.

On July 1, WPA opened an office at 90-26 161st St. in Jamaica where the group held a series of workshops to find out what kinds of projects were desired and needed. One idea that consistently came up was the installation of benches at area bus stops.

WPA gave seven residents, who would have otherwise been unemployed, $12 an hour to build two benches. One was installed on Parsons Boulevard near 88th Avenue and the other will serve as a back-up for the first. If it is determined that the second bench is not needed it will be placed at another location.

“After an hour of watching and filming it, people came over and sat down and said ‘This is great,’” recalled Robbins. “But they felt we needed a way to permanently affix it or else it would get stolen. We wanted to play the trust game, but people kept saying it would disappear.”

The WPA workers have taken the bench away while the group figures out a plan to make it more secure. It is considering bolting the bench to the concrete, but will consult the city’s Department of Transportation, to find out if that is the best method before moving forward.

However, involving the DOT may turn out to work against the WPA, since the group does not have permission to put the benches on city property.

“It is a renegade project in the sense that we are doing what we wish the government would do,” said Robbins “It gives average citizens a way to improve their neighborhood.”

Even if the city takes the bench away or it gets stolen, the project is not a total bust because it is what the bench symbolizes at least as much as its physical presence that is important.

It was an opportunity for community members to come together and make some money while learning skills that they would not have otherwise had, all while producing a product that benefits their neighborhood.


Bookartist said...

Bolt it down and to hell with the MTA! Are we supposed to wait for paper-pushers to give citizens the OK to sit down at a bus stop!

Anonymous said...

I hope they don't get fined or ticketed for installing a bench without the approval of the city.

Anonymous said...

Good point!

Obama has been in office LONG ENOUGH to have set up a bunch of agencies like the WPA, etc!

Franklin D. Roosevelt did...but what does our frat house college cafeteria Cicero president do?

Very little but kiss the ass of the Washington power groups...."big oil", etc.

After all he wants to get re-elected.

Look like Prez Obama become one gran' house servant in da big 'ol White House!

Great work with the benches guys!

If your government refuses to deliver take matters into your own hands and do some public good!

Anonymous said...

Ah...just stencil "Cemusa" on those benches and the city will think it's a paid for approved contract.

Anonymous said...

Bookartist --

The MTA has nothing to do with bus shelters. NYCDOT is in charge of their installation and maintenance.

Anonymous said...

This is a self-stimulating project: Build stuff that will either be stolen or seized as not approved by the appropriate government agencies. These are wasted taxpayer dollars. There isn't enough wood in Queens to replace these benches as they are stolen. We found that out with sidewalk litter baskets and gave up replacing them.

Deke DaSilva said...

Great story!

Like other commenters stated, if government can't do what it's supposed to, the people have every right to take things into their own hands.

This Kills Dutch Kills said...

Like the Millstones at Queens Plaza.

The local community cared for them for 350 years. Now big daddy (EDC and City Planning) knows whats best.

Not to worry. LPC calls them a 'Distinctive Sidewalk.'

Anonymous said...

Obama has been in office LONG ENOUGH to have set up a bunch of agencies like the WPA, etc!


Anonymous said...

I almost fell over when I saw the photo, a public project employing two young black men, using their minds.

Then I read on and realized Mike Bloombergs city government was not involved and I understood.

Wulfgar said...


Anonymous said...

Try concrete, not wood. they'll have a heck of a time getting rid of it. funny whenever I call The City about some problem it take them a very very long time to solve it and then I have to call again. because it turns out somehow the complaint got lost.

maybe that will happen with the benches?

Deke DaSilva said...

Wulfgar said...


Since we can't square off on the Roosevelt Island tram due to it being out of service, perhaps we can battle it out somewhere else.....

Anonymous said...

Sure leave a bunch of weapons (unbolted down benches) in a bad neighborhood and let the fun begin. If they last they will just turn into beds for the homeless.

Anonymous said...

What? I thought only overpaid unionized city contractors who got their jobs from their parents... had the right to build public benches.