July 31, By Michael Florio
A local group is looking to clean up a historic 17th century burial ground so it can use it as a community space.
Hibridos Collective, a collective group of local artists, is looking to clean up the Leverick Cemetery, located at 71st Street and 35th Ave, and use it as a space for community events.
Carlos Martinez, the co-founder of Hibridos Collective, said that Jackson Heights lacks green space, and that there is a need to take advantage of space like the cemetery.
Martinez plans to use the space to host weekly events, beginning this Saturday with a potluck lunch from 11 am to 1 pm. These events will, in part, be dedicated to beautifying the grounds.
“We can put up temporary art work and plants to make it look nice,” he said.
Hibridos Collective has already been looking after the space, which Martinez claims is now abandoned, for the past two years. The group teamed up recently with the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and pulled out weeds and cleaned up the site.
“Every month or so a group of our volunteers come and take care of the space,” he said. “It used to be really bad.”
The space was originally owned by the Leverich family, one of the first families to live in Jackson Heights after immigrating to North America in 1633.
The land then became a burial ground from the late 1700s through to the mid-1800s. There were 33 tombstones on the site before they were removed, according to Martinez, who is unsure what happened to them.
Despite its former use, Martinez sees potential for the green space and is hoping the potluck will bring out the community and get people discussing potential ideas for the location.
“Anything is possible at this space and we welcome all suggestions,” he said. “We always involve the community.”
Food, such as empanadas, will be provided at the potluck, Martinez said. The event is free to attend.
Martinez said volunteers will clean up the space Friday, so that it is appealing for those who attend Saturday’s potluck.