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QueensWay mapped out at Forest Hills seminar

Renderings of the proposed QueensWay park depict the proposal in various seasons. Renderings courtesy dland studio and WXY Studio
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Friends of the QueensWay’s plan to construct a park hinges on just 3.5 miles of railway, but the controversy around those tracks has reverberated much farther.

Proponents of transforming the abandoned Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road into a green strip modeled after the High Line in Manhattan gathered Monday in Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School’s cafeteria to discuss details of the proposal.

Beyond concerns about the QueensWay driving up traffic, eating into parking spaces and infringing on the privacy of backyards, the group heard from those calling for the reactivation of the LIRR line, who came armed with posters and leaflets.

With financing from a national non-profit called The Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay hired consultants to study the feasibility of turning the tracks stretching from Ozone Park to Rego Park into a pedestrian and biking path buffered by parkland.

After soliciting feedback during two workshops this month, Adam Lubinsky, principal with WXY Architecture and Urban Design, said the group planned to put forth designs plans with financing ideas in June.

“Within a mile, you’ve got a quarter of a million people, so it’s really a big opportunity to give people access to open space,” he said.

Lubinsky described several path layouts — some with separate paths for bikers and pedestrians, others shared — and various park components, from pavilions to dog runs, up for consideration.

Attendees, who broke up into groups to share their vision for the railway, used stickers to illustrate their preferences for path configurations and amenities on large maps.

Lou and Jana Richman, of Forest Hills, said they thought the linear park would provide some continuity to nearby neighborhoods and give the borough a more cohesive identity.

“I’m concerned about the southern area,” said Jana Richman. “The population is very dense and there are no parks. Unfortunately, the kids don’t have backyards.”

But the QueensWay mock-ups did not include a 200-slot parking lot that Sue Kasten said her Glendale co-op, at 90-60 Union Tnpk. near QueensWay, relies on.

“What do you do with 200 cars?” she said. “And the children walk on a bridge from the co-op to PS 113. What will happen to the bridge?”

Charles Favreau, also a Forest Hills resident, said he was dismayed neighbors would write off reactivating the LIRR line as the Rockaways continues to reel from Superstorm Sandy.

“For us to take land that could be used for civic use and put it to cardio use — I am appalled,” Favreau said.

Phil McManus, founder of the Queens Public Transportation Committee, which is pushing to reincarnate the railway, distributed fliers noting that the city still owns the tracks and the right-of-way is intact. The committee believes southern Queens needs the railway, particularly for economic development, but would accept a park surrounding the tracks.

The Friends of the QueensWay, which has not released any financial information on its plans yet, handed out a memo describing the committee’s push as futile.

More than a dozen years after the line closed in 1962, the Port Authority determined spending $475 million reactivating the railroad was too costly. Today that would amount to $4 billion, according to Friends of the QueensWay’s estimates.

City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) opposes reactivating the LIRR branch because nearby constituents would encounter noise, vibrations and other quality-of-life issues, her office said. She does not yet have a position on the park proposal.

Her colleagues, Council members Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), have also stayed quiet on the matter.

Crowley’s office declined to comment, and Ulrich’s chief of staff Rudy Giuliani said the councilman is waiting for firm financial details to consider either proposal.

“He doesn’t think anything is going to happen in his term,” Giuliani said.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

al from rh says:
Interesting.....Nature is the best....BUT - Is that the same Rudy Giuliana???? If so, Council Member Ulrich; PLEASE NOT HIM!
April 1, 2014, 10:48 am
Daniel Louis says:
I attended the Forest Hills work shop and found it to be very educational and informative. There were over a dozen discussion groups. The residents at my table were excited about the project. What me and lot of people were interested in was the the separated paths for bikes and pedestrians, which would make things safer for both users. I am an avid bike rider myself and would like to see a North-South bike route in Queens, since its hard to bike South - North or North - South, since most of the bike routes take you to Manhattan. It’s about time these neighborhoods had a safer and healthier alternative to commuting.
April 1, 2014, 2:54 pm
DavidofQueens says:
From my own observations, the crowd (well over 150 people) seemed pretty excited about the project. I thought the presenters did a great job addressing a lot of the concerns that were brought up in November. I look forward to seeing their ideas implemented. We can sit here and blog about the benefits vs. cost of building a railline for the next twenty years, or we can do something that will benefit the people who live there. I say QueensWay.
April 1, 2014, 4:25 pm
Susi from Forest Hills says:
The meeting was a huge success. I was surprised by the large crowd attending who were mostly for the construction of the Queens Way. The meeting was so well organized, informative, creative and inspiring. The Organizers were listening and understood concerns that residents have about safety, privacy and parking. Well done! Congratulations to the hard working committee.
April 1, 2014, 4:49 pm
Ana from Ozone Park says:
What a well organized meeting by Friends of the QueensWay. It's refreshing to see a focus on the Queens community and those who live around the abandoned railway. I appreciate the attention that safety, privacy and people received in the workshop. Thank you for caring about our health and wellness. Queens deserve a beautiful park for these neighborhoods. Let's keep it in Queens! Why worry about commuting to Manhattan?
April 2, 2014, 12:24 am
Philip McManus from Rockaway Park says:
I'm tired of NIMBYS who can defend stealing when it benefits their own interest.

Why should people who steal, neglect, damage and continue to possess stolen property on our right of way be rewarded with a private, exclusive, separating park for NIMBYS only?

Our train, time, money and prosperity (billions of dollars) were stolen by NIMBYS when they manipulated and conspired to take and keep our right of way, the Queens Rockaway Beach Line.

The NIMBYS took the Queens RBL and made it into a private park, extended their private backyards, created private baseball fields and parking lots to benefit NIMBYS on the backs of poor people in Queens.

Now they want to steal millions of public dollars to keep their private park and divide and separate people with a smile.

Our train took 40 minutes and less to travel from Queens to Midtown Manhattan. It now takes 80 minutes to get to Midtown.

NIMBYS don't care about the noise from their car, plane, bus or train when they travel.

Faster travel will save time and make money for everybody. It's vital to our economy.

NIMBYS don't care that the people of Queens were devastated when they lost the QRBL.

NIMBYS don't care about the thousands of people who lost their homes in Rockaway due to the theft of the QRBL and the steering and separation of poor people with eminent domain.

Did the NIMBYS care about the rest of Queens and their quality of life when the Queens RBL and their prosperity were stolen for extra land in their backyards and baseball fields?

NIMBYS had no authority to make our right of way parkland. Its probably another lie.

Imagine how much money and property values were lost (billions) for all the people of Queens when this major traffic corridor was taken.

Remember... no justice, no peace.

I strongly urge our NIMBY neighbors to love thy neighbor as thyself. Give us back our train and our prosperity before its too late.

Please ask your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:

http://www.rockawaybeachrail.com/

http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Phillip-Goldfeder/story/45022/

http://www.keeprockawayferry.com

Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee

718-474-0315

718-679-5309

rowing612@aol.com

https://m.facebook.com/RockawayBeachRailLine?id=100952823448998&refsrc=http://www.google.com/&_rdr

Twitter.com/RBL1910

http://rockawaybranchline.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-queens-public-transit-committee-for.html?m=1

www.QueensPublicTransit.com
April 15, 2014, 7:54 am

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