For years, residents watched beer bottles, red plastic drinking cups and old mattresses litter a village-owned vacant lot on the corner of Devon Road and Cornwall Lane in Uniondale.
Over the last year, local civic associations have rallied to turn the 4,000-square-foot space into a community garden -- a movement that got a big boost Saturday thanks to volunteers and a business owner.
"We want to do something attractive, curb-appealing and inspiring for the community," said Carole Johnson, president of the Cameron Avenue Block Association, a longtime resident and local activist.
So far, they've pulled the weeds, cleared the trash, mowed the lawn and planted shrubs. Two dozen people turned out for the afternoon event as volunteers and workers laid paver stones to create a meandering walkway.
"This community is very proactive and that's what I like about owning a business here," Stasi said. "They come in and support my business, so I'm very happy to give back in this way."
Area businesses, including Gold Coast Landscape Designs, Vigliotti's Great Gardens, Hicks Nurseries, State Material Mason Supply, and County Ready Mix and Supply donated about $3,500 worth of materials.
In addition to the walkway, the Cameron Civic Gardens Beautification Project will include a patio and garden with skip laurel trees, hydrangeas and other perennial flowers. The group is also installing a watering system that recycles collected rainwater.
Johnson, of the civic association, said she's already seen many positive changes in the neighborhood since the garden project has begun, such as renters who are spending their own money to plant more flowers.
In the future, she and Chris Stasi hope to start growing vegetables and host community events in the space.
"People feel much more invested in the neighborhood," Johnson said. "There's a social aspect to gardening, too. It makes people want to get involved."