The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay in May released the schematic design for the first half-mile of the proposed linear park and trail.
By Michael V. Cusenza
This fall, high school students from the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School will engage in scientific research at the abandoned railway in Central Queens that several community groups are advocating be developed into a park known as the QueensWay, according to AT&T, which is supporting the afterschool program along with Friends of the QueensWay and The Trust for Public Land.
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.
The afterschool program will teach science, technology, engineering, and math concepts to the participating 9th-12th grade students in a real-world environment. Through hands-on research, the students will learn about collecting data and providing information to the community to better understand the existing plant and animal life of the land that some would to see become the QueensWay.
According to AT&T, as part of the program, students will have the opportunity to interact with landscape architects working on the QueensWay project, to consider how various factors such as grade, soil, and drainage impact the habitat of plants and animals.
Students will also be using technology and social media to collect data on the species they observe on the QueensWay Ultimately, this information will be placed in a database, providing baseline information on the natural resources of the QueensWay corridor. In April, 2018, the MELS students and their teachers hope to engage the broader community in the City Nature Challenge—a national competition to observe and document as many species as possible in a 4-day period in urban natural areas.
“Hans-on learning is the foundation of a more sustainable education,” said MELS Assistant Principal Hilary Mills. “This program will provide our students with an opportunity to examine the principles of sustainability in a unique and engaging way, helping them to develop the skills they need to become the leaders that will guide our city into the future.”
The design stage of Phase I began in earnest last summer, Friends of the QueensWay and the