City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) admits that there still is a long way to go before he realizes his goal of rebuilding the Long Island Rail Road station in Elmhurst.
But he and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx) were both delighted with the results of a public forum on the subject held on April 11.
More than 60 residents of the area attended the “transportation town meeting” held at St. James Episcopal Church on Broadway. Dromm and Crowley are among those trying to prove to the LIRR that the neighborhood can and will support a replacement station for the one that was shut down for lack of use in 1985, and demolished two years later.
A new station could cost between $20 million and $40 million, though LIRR officials said they are studying the proposal very seriously in concert with other major upgrades on their Port Washington line.
The LIRR says fewer than 30 people per day were using the old station when it closed, but Dromm said the station is mentioned often when he meets with community members.
The turnout at the meeting more than doubled that figure.
“I was very satisfied,” Dromm said. “This is the beginning, and we have a lot of work ahead of us, as does the LIRR. We’re trying to fit all this together with community feedback on what they think. I think this has a real possibility of returning.”
Transportation Alternatives, an organization dedicated to increasing mass transit and reducing car travel in the city, believes Elmhurst can more than support such a station, along with the bus service and nearby subway station.
“You have things in Elmhurst I didn’t know existed,” said Brodie Enoch, public transit community outreach manager of the group, citing among other things a noodle shop that Dromm said he recently discovered during his presentation.
“People will come to Elmhurst,” Enoch said.
Dromm and Crowley said it is an issue of convenience for residents getting to and from Manhattan, as well as Long Island. He said many people would find the extra cost worth it for a faster, more comfortable trip.
“How much could the 40 minutes or hour that you save on a round trip be worth?” Crowley asked. The congressman too characterized the meeting as a success afterward.
“I’m so pleased that so many residents took the time to participate in the discussion of our community’s transportation needs,” Crowley said.