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I want to take a moment to address the QueensWay project, a proposed public greenway that will transform the Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach branch, which was abandoned more than 50 years ago. Specifically, the former railroad extends 3.5 miles from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Ozone Park. This proposed project is one of great concern to many residents in certain areas of the rail line due to its potential negative impact on local residents.
Certain sections of the proposed QueensWay, specifically the area of the rail line that runs parallel to 98th Street in Woodhaven, will be adjacent to the backyards of nearly 200 homeowners. Although I have been informed by the Friends of QueensWay that they plan to build the QueensWay completely gated around the entrances and make it inaccessible at night, local residents should not be the ones burdened with the cost of building a more secure fence around their backyards to ensure the privacy and safety of their homes.
To find additional evidence of the resident’s safety concern, you do not have to look any further than several incidents that have occurred in and around the vicinity of Forest Park in recent years. I echo the sentiments of residents by asking how can we expect the local precincts to carry the additional responsibility of patrolling and responding to incidents on the proposed QueensWay when our precincts are already being spread too thin within our district as it is?
Many of the residents on 98th Street are OK with the rail line being underused and prefer it to stay that way. I also agree that the rail line from Park Lane South down to Atlantic Avenue be left untouched as to not interfere with the quality of life of local residents.
Furthermore, as per the suggestion of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in its 20-year plan, the rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard should be left as is and eventually be used as a connection for an express line connection to Manhattan.
After carefully balancing the potential positive impact of the QueensWay vs. the potential negative impact on certain local residents, I recommend the following:
1. The QueensWay should be built only on the part of the rail line that stretches from Rego Park to Park Lane South.
2. The rail line from Park Lane South to Atlantic Avenue should be left untouched so as to not interfere with the quality of life of local residents.
3. The rail line from Atlantic Avenue to Rockaway Boulevard should also be left untouched, so it can eventually be used by the MTA as an express line connection into Manhattan.
In regards maintaining the QueensWay, it must be said that this proposed project should not at all be compared to the High Line public greenway in Manhattan. I remain unconvinced that the QueensWay, when built from Rego Park to Park Lane South, could achieve anywhere close to the level of corporate membership, sponsorship and support the High Line has based solely on the lack of surrounding businesses in the area and the lower level of tourism that attracts the private funding necessary to maintain a public greenway.
Without a consistent level of support and sponsorship from local businesses in addition to private funding, I fear that the QueensWay will eventually become an eyesore for local residents when funding for maintenance becomes an issue.
Additionally, I am interested to know whether Queens-based companies and local businesses will be the ones who are given the contracts to build out this proposed project. I believe that if the QueensWay is going to be built for the benefit of Queens’ residents and if it will positively affect Queens’ local businesses, then why are there currently no Queens-based companies being sought for the contracts even in the early stages of this project?
I see a positive impact on the Queens economy if our borough’s businesses benefit from building the QueensWay.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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