Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and the Forest Hills Civic Association (FHCA) both announced Tuesday night that they are ready to fight against the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line that some state assemblymen have called for recently.
That Long Island Rail Road line has been inactive since 1962. It runs from Forest Hills and Rego Park south to the Rockaways.
In recent months, assemblymen Phillip Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) and Mike Miller (D-Glendale) have advocated revitalizing the line.
They want to provide extra transportation in their districts and to the casino and planned convention center at the Aqueduct racino in Ozone Park.
But Forest Hills residents and officials at the FHCA meeting on Tuesday night said it’s a misguided attempt.
“I’m coming out against it wholeheartedly because it will affect this neighborhood in a very, very bad way,” Koslowitz said. “We’re going to be calling on all of you to help us do this because this will come through our neighborhoods in people’s backyards.”
Koslowitz explained that people’s homes have sprung up around where the tracks ran 50 years ago.
She and others worried that hundreds of residents would be subjected to a train running right through their property or parking.
“We do not want the values of their houses to go down the drain, and that’s what’s going to happen,” Koslowitz said. “So you’ll be hearing a lot from us in the next weeks and months to make sure that this does not happen.”
Barbara Stuchinski, president of the FHCA, said reactivating the line is an idea that comes up every 10 to 20 years and the combination of a new casino in Ozone Park and a new assemblyman for the area have resurrected it again.
“This current idea is being pushed by a really nice young guy who’s terribly naïve, Phil Goldfeder who was just elected to the assembly,” Stuchinski said. “This will not serve the Rockaways. They’re pushing it because of that Aqueduct casino crap.”
Goldfeder and Miller announced in February that they want to use a part of the $4 billion in private funding that is allegedly coming in to the proposed convention center to supplement local, state and federal money to rebuild the line.
It’s a significant undertaking though, with much of the 50-year-old track decayed or removed.
Stuchinski and Koslowitz are doubtful about the plans to fund it.
“There’s no money to build it. There’s no reason to build it,” Stuchinski said. “We will fight it.”
By Jeremiah Dobruck