PHOTO: The design process for the first half-mile of the proposed QueensWay Park will begin this summer, supporters announced last week. Courtesy of Friends of the QueensWay
By Michael V. Cusenza
The design phase of the first half-mile of the proposed QueensWay Park will be getting underway this summer, Friends of the QueensWay and the Trust for Public Land announced last Thursday.
The QueensWay project involves converting the long-abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line of the Long Island Rail Road—a 3.5-mile, 47-acre swath of the borough, from Rego Park to Ozone Park—into a $120 million public park, similar to the Highline in Chelsea, boasting trails and amenities.
Plans call for the 47-acre park to include a bike, jogging and walking path, upgrades for the facilities of local Little Leagues, schools, community and cultural comforts; and promises “a significant improvement to the environment and quality of life of those living in Central and Southern Queens.”
Phase 1 will focus on a central half-mile section of the QueensWay, from Metropolitan Avenue to Union Turnpike. This section, known as the Metropolitan Hub, will enhance pedestrian and bike access to Forest Park, and will include outdoor classrooms for more than 2,000 students in the adjacent Metropolitan Educational Campus. It will also provide enhanced facilities and new access to the Ridgewood/Glendale Little League.
“I am excited to see that we are now ready to start the design phase of the first part of the QueensWay project,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills). “I am proud to have helped fund this phase, and I encourage the construction of phase 1 after the design is done. The Queensway Plan will benefit our local economy, allow an additional green space in our urban landscape, and will literally link local communities together through the 3.5 miles of property that this project will connect. I look forward to continuing to work with the Friends of QueensWay and my colleagues in government to make this plan a reality.”
More than $1 million from public and private sources has been raised for the project, including a $444,000 grant from the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council; $250,000 from Hevesi; and $250,000 from City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).
Recent contributors to the QueensWay include The Tiger Baron Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The New York Community Trust, Altman Foundation, and Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., according to Friends of the QueensWay.
The design process will be led by Susannah Drake at DLANDstudio Architecture & Landscape Architecture. The design process will involve experts in engineering and environmental sciences, and will provide many opportunities for the community to engage, Friends of the QueensWay promised.
“The QueensWay represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the quality-of-life of Queens residents and provide a helpful boost to many of the Borough’s incredible businesses,” said Thomas Grech, Executive Director of Queens Chamber of Commerce. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce has been a proud supporter of the QueensWay since its inception and we are thrilled to be part of a diverse coalition advocating for its success and calling on the City to make the project a reality.”
Supporters of the QueensWay are urging the City to allocate the necessary funds to complete Phase 1.