Long Island PSEG employee Meredith Lewis wanted to help clean up the grounds of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, so she organized volunteer efforts to do just that.
The cleanup was part of PSEG’s Community Partnership Program, which provides sponsorship to any employees passionate about contributing within their community.
As a Shoreham resident, Lewis said she wanted to help make Wardenclyffe – which has become something of an eyesore the past few decades – a place the community can go to and be proud of, especially the area that will become the center’s welcome site.
The location where Serbian-born inventor Nikola Tesla’s last remaining laboratory in the world stands was designated as a world historic site the following day, so timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Lewis and her merry band of helpers – made up of about 25 people between those from PSEG and the Tesla Science Center.
“It feels really great that people want to take time out of their personal schedules and give back to the community,” Lewis said. “We want a nice place for people to go and honor Tesla. It’s very exciting to have somebody who has such a historical significance be in our community and to be able to clean up the site, which really was a dumb beforehand, and make it what it is today. It’s nice and helps the community.”
Her volunteers rakes leaves, trimmed low brush and shrubs, cleared out vines attached to the fence that separates the grounds and the road, and got the area ready for planned irrigation in the spring.
Even her kids Brayden, 7, and Brooke, 5, were taking part.
Karl Sidenius, a longtime volunteer for the center, said he got involved in the effort because he was sick of seeing what had become of the property.
“I knew this had been Tesla’s lab and to drive by here every day or so and see the mess really disturbed me,” he said. “If we can get this cleaned up today, it would be a big help in maintaining the property.”
Gene Genova, vice president of the Tesla Science Center, said the help was great. Ever since the property was bought in 2013, he said, hundreds of volunteers come out to the site and help clean up.
He said there are big plans to turn the abandoned house and building on the property into a visitor’s center and a community events center, respectively.
“When we get volunteers who are passionate about helping us,” Genova said, “it furthers our cause to make things happen faster.”