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Queens Chronicle

CB 5 says no way to the QueensWay

Board votes 36-2 against park plan

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Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 10:30 am

Community Board 5 has become the third Queens community board to express interest in reviving the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, voting 36-2 with one abstention in favor of bringing back the rail line to the abandoned tracks.

The only dissenting members of CB 5 were Thomas Rossi and Mercy Wong, while Dorie Figliola abstained from voting.

Board Chairman Vincent Arcuri believes that reactivating the rail line to alleviate traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard would be the best course of action, as opposed to the QueensWay project.

That idea involves creating elevated park space on the abandoned railway, similar to the popular High Line park in Manhattan.

“Woodhaven Boulevard is just overwhelmed. We need relief and the only way to relieve traffic is with public transportation,” Arcuri said. “The people in the Rockaways have been clamoring for public transportation better than what they currently have for years. That A train is like going on a safari.”

Andrea Crawford, Community Board 9 first vice chairwoman and pro-QueensWay advocacy group Friends of QueensWay member, believes that CB 5’s vote in favor of bringing back trains to the line is “ridiculous” and “interesting” in addition to being completely unfeasible.

“This is a right of way that has absolutely no infrastructure and is deteriorating. The bridges would have to be rebuilt to carry modern train equipment,” Crawford said. “A rail line would help traffic in what, 20 or 30 years when it’s reactivated?”

Abandoned in 1962, the 3.5-mile stretch of railway between Rego Park and Ozone Park has been the topic of heated debate between those who want either parkland or a reactivation of the rail line.

CB 5 joins Community Board 10 and Community Board 14 in expressing interest in bringing back rail service to the abandoned line, while many CB 9 members believe that the QueensWay project is the best use of the tracks.

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  • GlennDiResto posted at 11:59 pm on Sun, Dec 22, 2013.

    GlennDiResto Posts: 1

    Its nice to see members of all the community boards using common sense when voting on this very important Issue. The Queens Way Park is a beautiful Idea. However, re-opening the Rockaway Line of the LIRR is a MUCH BETTER Idea. It would provide ALL the residents of Queens and the City with fast accessible transportation. Those who live in the areas serviced by the Rockaway Line would be able to commute back and forth to work in about half the current time. Every New Yorker in the City would be able to finally access Shopping in Queens, JFK Airport, Resorts World Casino and the Beaches of Rockaway with ease. It would open a transportation corridor from South Queens to the middle of Queens and create endless economic opportunities for the forgotten borough. The ease of Transportation will make the areas of Queens serviced by the Rockaway Line more desirable to live, improving economic opportunity and property values.

    The significant housing development and a growing population of Queens make the need for the Re-opening of the Rockaway Line a no brainier. To put a park on this right away would be a travesty considering most of the areas of Queens close to the proposed Queensway already have Forest Park and with the continued growing population of New York City and Queens the need for additional Park space is not as crucial as the need for faster and accessible transportation.

    Many say if you are opposed to the Queens Way you are against the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. I cannot think of any better way to reduce air pollution and fight traffic congestion than re-opening the Rockaway Line. It would cut the use of vehicles along the Woodhaven corridor by providing people with better transportation alternatives. As we all know traffic congestion causes CO2 emissions to be spewed into the air, polluting our environment and neighborhoods. Don’t be fooled, the Re-Opening the Rockaway Line is an environmentally friendly project that will improve our air quality.

    Many say it will take years to build. Well any major infrastructure undertaking takes careful planning and many years of construction to come to fruition. Look at the 2nd Ave Subway it was first proposed in 1929 and is only now becoming a reality. How about the extension of the #7 train to the West Side of Manhattan, it will be opening next year, or how about East Side Access corridor that will bring the LIRR into Grand Central. All these major undertakings are huge projects and take time to complete, but in the long run will make our city a much better place.

    Many say who is going to pay for it? Well just like any other major infrastructure project, the re-opening of the Rockaway Line would not be funded by one single source. This project could be funded just like many of the other large capital improvement projects around the City. This project would be a partnership between the Feds, State and City. The Federal Transportation Administration, The City of New York, State of New York and the MTA could all chip in to make this a reality. Selling bonds is another way a being able to pay for the Rockaway Line that would only be fraction of the cost of any of the major MTA projects I mentioned above.

    Some say build the Queens Way and we can have our own High Line right here in Queens. Under normal circumstances I would have to agree. But, to deny the people of this city and Queens better transportation to build a scenic walkway is NOT the answer. One must remember, we are not Manhattan and tourists are not naturally attracted to visit this area of queens. However, build faster transportation, let them know then can use it to go to the Airport of Casino or even the beach only 30 min from Midtown Manhattan and watch them come in large numbers. Also one must remember the High Line was an abandon rail line that would have either become the High Line or it would have needed to been demolished at a significant cost. The scenarios of the High Line and the Queens Way are totally different and should not be compared.

    Many have said you can’t re-open the Rockaway Line because people have built along the right of way. Unfortunately, for these homeowners who happen to live along the Right of Way they are obviously opposed to the re-opening of the line. But should tens if not hundreds of thousands of people be denied faster and more affordable and accessible transportation for the benefit of a few?? The residents along the right of way who purchased knew or should have known that these abandon rails could once again be activated by the MTA. I hate to say it but in real estate there is a phrase called Caveat Emptor which means "Buyer Beware."

    We must never forget that we ALWAYS have to invest in our future and the Rebuilding of the Rockaway Line is a way to do it.

  • Thetransitman posted at 12:39 am on Sat, Dec 21, 2013.

    Thetransitman Posts: 17

    It's great news that Queens CB #5 supports reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Line and the Queens Public Transit Committee thanks them. The community boards' contentions are correct regarding Woodhaven Blvd. being overwhelmed with traffic and that the best way to aleive the traffic is to reactivate this valuable rail line for LIRR or subway service. If the RBL is reactivated it wouldn't be that costly since most of the LIRR berm is still in tack. Engineers would have to determine whether any of the structural bridges would need to be replaced but I doubt it since years ago these structures were built to last a long time with heavy duty reinforced concrete. These structures may just need to be repainted and and refurbished with concrete along chiped or rotted away parts where the iron mesh is showing out of the concrete. The costs to reactivate this line would be ridiculously low compared to tearing it down to build a super expensive high line park when numerous parks already exist in Queens. Parks in the backyards of homes would bring crime thus reducing property values while the rail line in the backyards would provide privacy, security and increase property values for all of these homeowners. It would also increasse property values for many of the homes throughout Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park and other adjacent communities such as Ridgewood, Glendale, Howard Beach, and the southern end of Forest Hills as is now seen in areas like Kew Gardens and Forest Hills which already has two bustling LIRR stations. It's time South Queens gets a piece of the pie and that instead CB # 9 supporting a Queensway Plan which would waste millions of dollars to build another lousy park they could instead support the rail line that would help hundreds of thousands of people from all of Queens not just build a park that would only help a few hundred bicyclists. If CB #9 wants to help the bicyclists they should ask the NYC Parks Department to build more bicycle paths throughout Forest Park, Highland Park and Flushing Meadow Park and NYCDOT to build more pernmanant bicycle paths throughout more local streets within South Queens.