An area elected official this week said he was “deeply disappointed” with the state Regional Economic Development Council’s recent decision to grant funding for the QueensWay park proposal on the Rockaway Beach Rail Line right-of-way, but vowed to continue the fight to reactivate the abandoned line.
Reacting to last Thursday’s news that the Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit organization working to create parks, had been tapped by the REDC to receive more than $443,000 to design the first phase of the proposed QueensWay, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) said, “Our tax dollars are being wasted on overpriced out-of-borough consultants that shove their one-sided studies and expensive designs down our throats.”
The QueensWay project involves converting the long-defunct Rockaway Beach Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road—a 3.5-mile swath of the borough, from Rego Park to Ozone Park—into a $120 million public park boasting trails and amenities.
According to the most recent study supported by the Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay, the High Line-style park will “provide safe, easy access to Forest Park; new recreation opportunities for the 322,000 people living within a mile; a boost to local businesses and a high-profile showcase for the most culturally diverse borough of New York City.”
While the project has garnered overwhelming support from elected officials at every level of government, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and even some area businesses, among other entities, the QueensWay is not without its detractors.
“It’s clear that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best and most cost-effective way to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development,” Goldfeder said. “Elected officials, union leaders, and community members from every part of the borough and as far as Manhattan have expressed full support for the complete restoration of the [line] and increased transit options. The MTA Reinvention Commission, convened by the governor, has called for reactivation of unused rail-rights-of-way to quickly and cheaply improve our transit system.”
Also this week, New York Magazine listed the QueensWay plan as one of its annual “Reasons to Love New York.”
In blasting the REDC, Goldfeder seemingly did not agree with the periodical’s selection.
“The Council has once again ignored the needs of real Queens families who struggle with our lack of transit options,” he said.
By Michael V. Cusenza