Members of Community Board 5 met Tuesday evening in Glendale to discuss community updates, including several ongoing capital projects.
A big topic was revitalizing the Rockaway Beach rail line, which John Rozankowski and Philip McManus of the Queens Public Transit Committee said would reduce long commutes for residents of southern Queens, and alleviate traffic congestion in northern Queens.
CB 5 was among the first to support the idea.
“It would provide better connections to Manhattan, but it’s also the absolute solution to the north-south Queens problem,” Rozankowski said.
Often, students have to go through Manhattan just to get from southern Queens to schools like Queens College, Rozankowski said. With improvements, one train could transport residents from Far Rockaway to Main Street, Flushing in about 50 minutes.
Also, businesses would naturally move to Queens, he said.
Rozankowski said the line, which originally ran from Ozone Park to Rego Park and has been inoperative since 1962, could be restored via two options: the LIRR, which would link Penn Station and Aqueduct, two stations would need to be built at Rego Park and Aqueduct, or by connecting the rail line with the subway east of 63rd Drive.
Rozankowski said most southern Queens residents prefer a subway, as opposed to light rail like electric trolleys or an AirTrain.
Several CB 5 members extolled the faster and relatively easier construction of a light rail system.
CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr. mentioned the “outrageously costly and disruptive” construction on the 2nd Avenue Subway line in Manhattan.
“That’s the worst comparison in the world,” Rozankowski said. Construction in Queens wouldn’t require as much deep drilling and digging, he explained.
John Schell, co-chairman of CB 5, cautioned use of the term “subway” in future proposals, saying it conjures negative associations of projects like the 2nd Avenue construction.
Members also spoke about a long-delayed reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue from Flushing to Cooper avenues, a makeover of almost 50 blocks, including roadbeds, sidewalks, water mains, street lighting and trees, around the Ridgewood-Bushwick border.
Schell explained the project has been delayed in five-year increments since it was last resurfaced in 1995. The start date is postponed to 2024.
CB 5 members agreed it would revitalize the community, if it gets off the ground.
“It’s a major economic development that would upgrade both the Brooklyn and Queens sides and we can’t for the life of us find out why no one’s pushing that project,” Arcuri said.
Members also gave a brief update on the bike lanes project in Ridgewood and Glendale. As part of Phase 1, there are new painted lines on Woodward and Onderdonk avenues between Flushing Avenue and 69th and Catalpa avenues, the longest stretch of bike paths planned.
Phase 2, which will tackle routes along Juniper Valley Park and Metropolitan, Eliot and Grand avenues, is expected to start in the spring of 2015.
CB 5 also discussed two sewer construction projects, one at 69th Street and Calamus Avenue, which hasn’t started construction yet, and another on 74th Street near Juniper Valley Road. The latter is still in design with no construction until 2015.
Members voiced concerns over how sewer construction would interfere with parking, garbage pickup and snow plowing in the winter.
CB 5 member Ted Renz also gave updates on a neighborhood plaza on 71st Street and Ridgewood Avenue, what he calls a “great partnership” between the City Council and The Horticultural Society of New York. As part of the deal, The Horticultural Society will maintain plants in a few plazas around the community and seasonally replant four times a year.
A ceremony to unveil the plaza is planned for Friday, Sept. 5 at 3:45 p.m.