It just seemed dangerous to Jerry Evans.
Families with children waited for the city bus on the thin strip of sidewalk in front of his Brooklyn Center home on busy Brooklyn Boulevard. Kids fidgeted just inches from the traffic while frazzled mothers pulled their youngsters back.
Watching this play out from the front window of his childhood home was enough to drive Evans to action.
He built his own bus stop on the front lawn. He made and installed benches, a retaining wall and landscaping so that riders, especially children, had a safe place to wait.
In October, Evans was honored with one of Brooklyn Center’s Random Act of Kindness awards. He was one of 21 people noted for acts of neighborliness, including helping find a lost dog, sharing produce with neighbors, and coordinating a free meals program for the needy. City Council member Lin Myszkowski nominated Evans after noticing his bus stop.
“Thanks to Jerry’s kind and generous gift of his time, talent and treasures, those who catch the bus in front of his house have an attractive, safe place to sit while waiting for the bus,” Myszkowski said in her nomination.
The bus stop is needed, Myszkowksi said. “It’s terrifying. People come by so fast,” she said. “You are taking your life into your hands if you are crossing the street there.”
Evans, 72, sitting at his bus stop on a cool, overcast afternoon last week, recalled one mother in particular who struggled to cross the street with three small children and then to keep them safe as they waited for the bus.
“They all wanted to play at the edge of the curb,” Evans said. “I didn’t want them to get hurt.”
So Evans, a retired landscape designer, put in a bench on his property adjacent to the sidewalk.
Soon it always seemed full. So he added two more benches as well as rock retaining walls, landscaping, hostas and other flowers. “In the morning there’s usually six people out there,” he said.
Evans no longer lives in the house — his son does — but he often goes out to rake leaves, do maintenance and chat with waiting riders. He’s gotten to know the regulars and the drivers. “One bus driver told me this is the nicest bus stop on his route,” Evans said.
It’s been a way to spread some neighborliness. “Ninety-nine percent of the people are wonderful,” he said.