2012-09-07 / Top Stories

596 Acres Finds And Labels Lots

By Nicholas Briano

A vacant lot labeled by 596 Acres near the boardwalk. Photo by Elizabeth Gilchrist. A vacant lot labeled by 596 Acres near the boardwalk. Photo by Elizabeth Gilchrist. The Brooklyn-based group, 596 Acres, has spent a good part of the last two weeks mapping out the vacant lots of Rockaway, which many on the peninsula know, must be quite a few.

The group’s project is highlighted by an effort to map publicly-owned vacant lands throughout New York City in hopes of having the city allow the group and its advocates to turn them into something positive and useful for the community.

Information provided by 596 Acres has been used by communities in Brooklyn to turn vacant lands into community gardens in that borough over the past year and the organization now hopes to do something similar in Rockaway.

Representatives for 596 Acres say they are looking to partner with local groups interested in their cause to help turn a vacant lot into a community resource. They have recently posted signs with their information throughout Rockaway on most lots.

“We would love to set up an event with any Rockaway group that is thinking about potential for new projects here,” Paula Segal, Lead Facilitator for 596 Acres, told The Wave recently. “We are actively looking for ways to connect to organizations, groups, or individuals interested in more community spaces here.”

According to data provided on 596 Acres.org, there are nearly 500 vacant lots in Queens with a large percentage of them in Rockaway, most notably in Edgemere and Arverne East.

With the help of Rockaway residents, 596 Acres, which started as a 12-month pilot project in Brooklyn, can expand their influence to this peninsula. The group uses several tactics to expand its message including a thoroughly detailed map of Rockaway and other parts of the city which pinpoints vacant lots and provides their size in acres. The group also places signs on the vacant land to explain each lot’s status and steps that the community can take in order to seize the land for its own use. By invitation from community groups, 596 Acres organizes sessions for education about public land holdings. It also provides direct advocacy with New York City agencies on the community’s behalf.

Segal told The Wave that the events of the past two weeks have garnered interest from several people in the community who want to work with 596 Acres to utilize a vacant lot near their home.

Anyone interested in joining the 596 Acre’s cause can visit their site at 596 acres.org.

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