QueensWay heavily criticized at public meeting
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Nov 22, 2016 | 8368 views | 6 6 comments | 207 207 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Supporters for the QueensWay project were met with criticism during a presentation on the project at last week’s Forest Hills Civic Association meeting.

At 3.5 miles long, the proposed park is more than twice as long as the High Line in Manhattan, which it is modeled after.

As currently proposed, the QueensWay is split into four park regions, which will feature areas such as playgrounds, fitness zones and biking paths.

There will also be two areas situated near residents’ homes that will have minimal programming, according to Susannah Drake of DLANDstudio, the landscape artist for the QueensWay.

The presentation was led by Travis Terry, a member of the Friends of the Queensway, a group of residents advocating for the transformation of the 47 acres of abandoned railway that cuts through neighborhoods like Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.

On hand recording ideas from the meeting was Andy Stone, director of the New York City chapter of the Trust for Public Land, an organization that would help assist the Friends of the Queensway in the execution and management of the park.

Terry and Drake updated the community on the project’s progress as well as listened to numerous concerns and input from the community.

All of the property for the QueenWay is already owned by the city. The Forest Park portion falls under the Parks Department’s jurisdiction, while everything else is under the Department of Citywide Services. Terry pointed out that 322,000 people live within a mile of the area.

“What’s exciting about this project is the opportunity to work with all the different community facilities to help enhance what they have, including the Little League fields and schools,” Terry said.

Through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council and private funding, Friends of the QueensWay have been able to secure money for a massive strategic plan. They’ve held workshops regarding designs in the past.

The group is currently working on a phase one design, which covers the area between Metropolitan Avenue and Union,

By the end of the presentation, Drake and Terry were met with boos from the audience, especially when Drake noted the cost to build phase one would be around $12 million. Terry added that the estimated cost for all 3.5 miles would be around $122 million.

Residents had concerns about parking, while others couldn’t believe the group hadn’t thought of design plans for further phases.

“Even though you are working on phase one, there has to be a general thought of what comes next,” one resident said. “No one is asking us what we think.”

Safety, graffiti, real estate prices and car break-ins were also issues that residents were concerned about.

There was a moment of uproar when Terry mistakenly stated that the park would increase property tax, rather than property value. He quickly fixed his mistake, but a member of the crowd shouted out “it’s the same thing.”

In the design plans, Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS) will have an outdoor classroom. When Terry and Drake added the excitement from students at MELS has motivated the Friends of the QueensWay, residents argued that rather than talking to the public school children the group should be speaking with residents.

“Let me tell you about the kids in school, because I used to teach them,” a resident said. “They’re all excited now, but they’ll be up here doing whatever, like they are doing now at the little triangle park off of Selfridge Street. Get real.”

Drake said there would be standard details relating to security, such as lighting, fencing, cameras and gated entrances. The proposed northern passage will have access points at Fleet Street, near Metropolitan Avenue and Yellowstone Boulevard.

A barrier and screenings will separate homes from the park. Residents were unhappy with the plans, arguing that intrusive lights and an increase in theft might occur.

“They won’t be able to get up there as easily they can right now,” Drake countered.

State Senator Joe Addabbo concluded that he currently does not support the QueensWay project, saying that he would “rather wait a little than go ahead and we all wake up one morning and say ‘What did we do?’”

“Long after this project is done, they might consider expansion or they might move on to the next one, but my people who live there will have to live with it on a daily basis, and that’s the concern I have,” Addabbo said.

As unpopular as the QueensWay presentation was among most residents, supporters of a counter proposal to revitalize rail service along the line were also met with a heated reception.

Those in the crowd argued the rail line would be beneficial to the Rockaways more than Forest Hills, and the process would be lengthy and expensive.

Some people in attendance did voice support for the project. Karen Imas, a homeowner on Juno Street, said that the QueensWay might revitalize small businesses in the area.

“I walk down Metropolitan Avenue and I see a lot of shuttered storefronts,” Imas said. “The movie theater is struggling, Danny Brown’s is closed and the Sizzler is a dump. I only see this getting worse.

“I have yet to see one elected official or one community group propose anything to help these businesses open,” she added.
Comments
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Rick Horan
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November 27, 2016
QueensRail Corp. is a not-for-profit organization that is advocating for reactivating the old Rockaway Beach Line. Using modern technology to reduce noise, replacing this vital missing link will increase property values, offer more transportation options and generally improve the quality of life for every neighborhood it connects. We hope to have the opportunity to present the transportation side of the story at some future Forest Hills Civic Association meeting.
Matt W.
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November 27, 2016
This railway is NOT "Abandoned". The federal Railways map has it listed as "INACTIVE", meaning that it can be activated AT ANY TIME ! The QueensRail will benefit more than the people of just the Rockaways. It will make the entire neighborhood better all along it's route (4.7 miles, not 3.5) Forest Hills has more parks than it can currently use or even take care of. Furthermore, this article is wrong. The dept. of parks does NOT own any of the railway. There is NO RECORD of any transfer of ownership. The train must be reactivated, NYC needs the transportation desperately and the "RIGHT OF WAY" is already there. The people that live along the track DON'T OWN IT ! Forest Hills enjoys a short 15 min commute to Manhattan. With an UNDER USED LIRR station (Least used station on the entire LIRR system) The selfish people of Forest Hills enjoy the "E-F-M-R" Subway lines, the Q 23,60,64. They have good public transportation and don't care about ANYONE else. Let's see how well they do when ALL OF QUEENS wants the QueenRail and NOT another NEGLECTED Queens park !
Carl Perrera
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November 27, 2016
Spending 122 million for a (Queensway) park along this abandoned rail right of way is not an effective use of money since there is already a very huge existing park adjacent to this area called Forest Park which already has playgrounds, jogging paths, bicycle paths and other park activities. Victory field also has a small fitness area that could be expanded without the need for the Queensrail. This is all smoke and mirrors concept to waste millions of dollars to convert this land to a park to eliminate any chance of connecting rail service between Southern and Northern Queens. Isn't it also funny that the Trust For Public Land is first concentrating on the stretch of land between Metropolitan Avenue and Union Tpke. which if ever completed would effectively eliminate any chance to connect any proposed rail service to either the LIRR Montauk Line, the LIRR Main Line or the Queens Blvd. Line.making me think that this is the only real reason for the Queensway is to divide north and south Queens from effective north/south connecting rail service

Instead a alternative plan for a rail line as proposed by the QueensRail would help revitalize businesses in Forest Hills much more than the Queensway's proposed park as a rail line would bring many more shoppers from South Queens to Metropolitan Avenue increasing the viability of the retail businesses located there. A rail line would also aide thousands of students commuting to many of the public and parochial high schools and colleges across Queens County. The rail line would also provide rail transportation between Forest Hills and JFK Airport as well.

In closing, the Queensway must be stopped at all costs. Please go to www.qptc.org. Join the Queens Public Transit Committee at 718-679-5309. Help us promote the QueensRail and more faster and safer transportation for all. Sign our petition and tell your family and friends to sign too. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/queensrail-better-transportation-for-queens

anonymous
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November 27, 2016
Maybe all the people fighting for the Queensway should go in reverse and join in with the people pushing so hard to get the RAIL back on track the Queensrail, that would really help revitalize small businesses in your area and other areas as well. The Queens Public Transit Committee is working very hard to accomplish this and for EVERYONE not just Rockaway.
Danny Ruscillo
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November 27, 2016
Maybe all the people fighting for the Queensway should go in reverse and join in with the people pushing so hard to get the RAIL back on track the Queensrail, that would really help revitalize small businesses in your area and other areas as well. The Queens Public Transit Committee is working very hard to accomplish this and for EVERYONE not just Rockaway.
Philip McManus
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November 26, 2016


Dear Readers,

For your information. No one said that Rockaway would benefit more than Forest Hills from the railway. Every community would benefit with a railway. Transportation is the life blood of any community. The reason Metropolitan Avenue businesses and ultimately the community at large are hurting is not enough transportation options. Our community is choking in traffic, gridlock and unfair tickets. The QueensRail will help bring people to work, school, shopping and our parks faster and safer. The QueensRail will unite north and south Queens and the region. The QueensRail will reduce gridlock and pollution without Zero Vision or Select BS tickets. I wonder why this article doesn't mention the Queens Public Transit Committee and or show their banners promoting the QueensRail? It's clear that this article is bias and refuses to report the facts. Don't trust the media. Go to www.qptc.org. Join us at 718-679-5309. Help us promote the QueensRail and more faster and safer transportation for all. Sign our petition and tell your family and friends to sign too. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/queensrail-better-transportation-for-queens