August 7, By Jason Cohen
The murals that went up beneath the Long Island Rail Road tracks on 71st Avenue—featuring tennis greats such as John McEnroe—have been damaged by water and pigeon feces.
In response, a group of workers from the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium recently scrubbed them down with soap and water, in their quest to restore the art. However, further work is required.
Forest Hills Stadium promoter Mike Luba said that the restoration of the murals is important since they are enjoyed by thousands of people as they make their way to the stadium.
The murals, which feature tennis stars Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King as well as music legends and Forest Hills natives the Ramones, were heavily stained by dirt and water from the train tracks above, causing concert organizers to send a team to clean them up.
The murals on the west side of the street that feature the tennis legends—such as John McEnroe–have been damaged the most.
“The goal for us is to try to be good neighbors,” Luba said. “We know we have an impact on the neighborhood.”
Luba said that stadium officials and the MTA are working on a permanent solution to prevent further water damage to the murals.
In May, the LIRR sent a team visit the site. They did some improvement work there, including removing and reinstalling pigeon netting, cleaning steel columns and painting concrete column bases among other clean-up activities.
The pigeon problem has largely been resolved, Luba said.
Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the MTA, said that an LIRR inspection revealed that there are water leakage problems on the bridge. He said waterproofing the bridge is a lengthy process that requires taking tracks out of service. The repairs are slated for August 2018.
The murals were painted as part of an initiative spearheaded by the stadium and concert organizers who worked on the project with 501 See Streets, a nonprofit dedicated to beautifying neighborhoods through art, and state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.