Laborers Local 1010, now based in Whitestone, teamed up with contractors C.A.C. Industries and the Greater Contractors Association to beautify the lot for Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) Post 3427 in Queensboro Hill.
“We wanted to try to do something to help them, the parking lot was in terrible shape,” said Local 1010 business manager Keith Loscalzo. “A member’s wife had fallen and injured herself pretty badly. Part of what the local tries to do is to help out on charitable, community-type projects.”
Loscalzo said this particular project had been planned for more than a year. The union paid for the materials and its members performed the work, while C.A.C. Industries donated the equipment and the association paid for the manpower.
He said due to budgetary restrictions, including legal limitations on how to spend money that is collected from members, Local 1010 had to “devise a plan where we can get it done to the quality we wanted.” There were also scheduling conflicts along the way.
“We knew we’d get it done,” he said. “It was just a matter of how long it would take.”
In the end, it took two days to finish the roughly $40,000 project - one day to rip up the existing pavement and another day to form, pour and finalize the new road.
“It was a great joint effort for a very worthy cause,” Loscalzo said. “As a union, we just feel it’s our duty to not just help our members, but anybody in need. Especially veterans, I can’t think of a more worthy charity.
“We hope the quality of life for the members that come here, they don’t have to get out in the mud,” he added. “They don’t have to worry about tripping hazards.”
VFW Post 3427 commander Raymond Ramos said the post has been around since 1965. As an organization that provides services and resources for veterans, Ramos said, it was important to have a building where members can park safely.
“It also allows us to have better access for the people that come in to utilize our facility, being able to park in the parking lot and not have their vehicles damaged,” Ramos said. “It cuts down on having people injured because the parking lot is not paved properly.
“The fact is it could lead to something [serious],” Ramos added. “We wanted to get it corrected as soon as possible.”
A few years ago, Ramos said, he reached out to one of the Local 1010 workers to see if they would take on the project. Though the VFW didn’t have the financial resources to get it done, Ramos hoped a volunteer effort would.
Once they were in touch, they discussed ways to find partnering organizations to help out with the effort.
“It was timing and being able to find the resources to come in and do it for us,” Ramos said. “It took a little while, but it was all worth the wait.”
Loscalzo said the VFW usually rents out the facility for other uses, but many people and groups won't rent it because of the bad parking conditions. He said when they were finalizing the repaved lot on Wednesday morning, three people stopped by to ask how they could rent the hall.
“So we’re hoping in the long run, it will benefit them financially and help them with their budget,” he said. “We’re just glad to do it.”