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Thursday, December 15, 2011

3.5 Miles of Biking Bliss Coming Soon!



How Bikes Will Save the World



This is a call for all cyclists to support the 
Queens (High) Line!




Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Petition for a Queens (High) Line

Help us reach 1,000 signatures before 2012!
Tell us why you think this disused railway should be transformed into a green space.

Thank you very much for caring about Queens.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why You Should Take Action Now


How to help Create the Queens (High) Line 
in 10 Easy Steps!








1. Please sign our petition and share it by all means possible. Karma points included ;)
 http://www.change.org/petitions/queens-borough-commissioner-nyc-parks-and-recreation-create-a-greenway-along-the-abandoned-rockaway-beach-branch-right-of-way
* Interstate and International signatures welcome! 
* Queens Residents & New Yorkers: please download & print the petition to collect signatures at local events: Petition for a Queensway  


Why this is Important
A 3.5 mile stretch of the old Rockaway Beach Branch railroad right-of-way currently lies abandoned in Central and Southern Queens. Over the past 60 years, since rail service ended, it has become a dumping ground for garbage, abandoned cars and other debris, and is one of the largest tracts of unused land in an area populated by hundreds of thousands. 
An incredible opportunity exists to transform this abandoned, unsightly and in many places hazardous space into a beautiful 3.5 mile public park extending south from Rego Park to Ozone Park. A multi-use path would provide a recreational and commuter corridor through Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. It would link these communities with Forest Park and the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway and to nearby bike lanes leading to the recreational spaces of Rockaway Beach and Jamaica Bay, including the Shore Parkway path, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Gateway National Recreation Area. It would also connect at least five subway lines and numerous commercial districts, shops and schools. greenspace, sports facilities and community gardens could be created for family recreation and for use by the several schools along the route. A safe bicycle route parallel to Woodhaven and Crossbay Blvd.'s would exist so that people could ride to school, go shopping, visit friends, reach public transportation or simply enjoy a sunny day.  
The City and MTA have repeatedly indicated that they do not intend to reactivate this rail line anytime in the near future and in some places ball fields and parking lots have been built over the rails. This, combined with strong opposition from those who now live along the line, and the high cost of rebuilding an active rail line make it very unlikely that a railroad will ever be reactivated. Rather than leave this land to continue to degrade and fill with trash for another 60 years, action should be taken now to preserve this gem bringing greenspace to more Queens families, and improving recreation, the economy and the quality of life of those living along it.


2.  Tell us how would you improve on these ideas. What are your dreams for Queens? Write 500 words or less and email it to us! Blog about it. Tweet your heart out (and RT us too!)


3.  Please share the https://www.facebook.com/groups/queenshighline group on your facebook profile (cut and paste the link into your status) and invite your friends to join (see that little box on the top right of the group? Enter your friends names to add anyone you think would be interested).


4.  Follow us on Twitter: Queens High Line and use hashtag #QueensHighline when tweeting (You will also see a number of tweets you can retweet) And also The Queens Line


5.  Read, comment & subscribe to: http://www.queenshighline.blogspot.com


6.  Become a fan of RBBG's page: https://www.facebook.com/RBBGreenway


7.  Ask all of your friends, family, colleagues, significant others to forgo a monetary gift for any and all occasions and instead contribute a thoughtful comment, idea or vision to this very worthy project ;).


8.  Email us at queenshighline@gmail.com


9.  Contact your local media about our efforts. We want more people to know and care about this.

10. What talents do you have to share? Join one of our committees to donate your skills.


All in all, we're re-creating the community life that has been dwindling over the years with busy households who have hardly any time to enjoy a meal together. This is especially poignant right now where the new graduates, unemployed and underemployed (aka the 99%) are searching for something more substantial in their lives.


I certainly miss the days when children played hopscotch, basketball, hide-and-seek and other games with each other in the streets, when the ice cream truck could be heard blocks away, and we lined up for what seemed like forever with sweaty dollars and hungry bellies awaiting swirly cones with rainbow sprinkles.


Shall we, once again, embrace the beauty of the slow life, where we stop to savor the sweet moments, among the blur of this fast-paced city?


Thank you all for being part of this group, for sharing the vision, for using your voice for good and to create a cleanER, greenER, more sustainABLE Queens.


Let's make this happen!

Anandi

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give My Regards to Sandke



Much Respect to the Giant



"We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours." 

John of Salisbury, 12th century theologian and author


I felt as if I stumbled upon a hidden treasure trove when I found out about Jordan Sandke's hard work in establishing the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee, only to be heart-broken when all of these connections and plans failed, through no fault of his own, but by the powers that reside in community boards and the other political powers that be. 


Because this land stretches across so many Queens community board boundaries, naturally (or in some cases unnaturally) there are opposing agendas in mind, without any compromise thus far (though of recent I have come across some ideas that are a fusion of a speedrail and a park). Can rails and trails live in harmony in this area? Is that really a possibility when the tracks are elevated in some parts and on packed dirt in others? 

In a 1996 article by  Beauty Mark, Yes; Landmark, No
THE call to create a park on the High Line, an elevated course of disused railroad tracks in Manhattan, has resonated in Richmond Hill, a hidden-away spot of elegant wood-frame homes and hushed streets in south-central Queens. 
Richmond Hill, too, has abandoned tracks, running along its western edge, part of a line that used to run to Rockaway Beach. And a number of residents support the idea of ripping out the elevated tracks to install a bike and hike path. 
Standing on Park Lane South, near 101st Street, looking up at the bridge, which used to carry trains but now supports young trees whose leaves shimmer gold and russet, it is easy to see the appeal of this proposal. If the path is eventually built, it will come almost as a grace note in Richmond Hill, which abuts woodsy Forest Park, with its horse-riding trails, carousel and golf course. 
Living In: Richmond Hill, Queens 
Jordan Sandke, chairman of the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee, unveiled the rails-to-trails idea to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation last March, and now must figure out a way to win over naysayers. 
“This is like a small upstate town that hasn’t changed in 50 years,” said Mr. Sandke, who teaches high school music and English in Long Island City. “There’s a deep respect for protecting it. Even the new people are sensitive to the character of the neighborhood.”
Mr. Sandke considers himself one of the new people — despite having moved to the neighborhood in 1997 from Astoria, Queens — because so many Richmond Hill residents have stuck around for decades. If the old-timers move at all, he said, it is often just a few houses over.
The City: Not Everyone Is Bike-Friendly (2 Letters) 
 September 10, 2006
To the Editor:
In a Sept. 3 letter (“New York Is Bike-Friendly”), Ryan Russo, the Department of Transportation’s director for street management and safety, states that he and his colleagues “have to work hard to win local support for the bike lanes, as there is often significant community board and elected official opposition to these plans.” 
We have been working for two years with Queens Community Board 9 to establish a bike path on the long-abandoned city-owned former Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch right of way. Returning it to public use as a greenway would seem to be a no-brainer, especially considering it was on the city’s 1997 greenway master plan. 
The city, however, has been less than helpful. Last year the Department of City Planning obtained funding for a feasibility study for this proposal, but could not go ahead because they were unable to secure a required “implementation partner,” even though they approached the obvious choices: the Parks Department and Department of Transportation. We ourselves were rebuffed in a meeting with officials from the Parks Department, who suggested that we assume full responsibility for conducting a study and amassing the funds for implementation. 
Mr. Russo has our support. Do we have his? 
Jordan Sandke
Richmond Hill, Queens
The writer is chairman, Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee.
 
 
To the Editor: 
It’s great that the Department of Transportation is adding bike lanes to the streets of the city. 
Now if it could just persuade cyclists to use them instead of ignoring red lights, riding the wrong way on one-way streets, or on the sidewalk, and in general behaving as if traffic regulations do not apply to them. 
David Vaughan
East Village
 

Ivan Pereira's March 22, 2007 article, Community Board Rejects Rails-To-Trails Proposal is another heart-breaker:
After months of heated debate, members of Community Board 6 rejected a proposal last week to convert an abandoned railway running through their neighborhood into a greenway and bike path.
Up for debate on March 14 was whether to renovate an abandoned, graffiti-littered Long Island Rail Road right-of-way — which runs more than three miles between Rego Park and Ozone Park — into a lush greenway for pedestrians and cyclists. 
At an earlier board meeting, advocates of the project asked members to support a feasibility study for the greenway. But sharp division over the plan prompted Vice Chairwoman Elizabeth Anderson to convene a special committee to review the facts before making a final decision, members said. 
Even after two months of deliberation, however, the committee could only reach a split decision, Anderson said. “Despite all our work and discussion, the committee was unable to come to a resolution,” she said. 
Board members opposing the study, worried the greenway — which runs adjacent to many homes in Rego Park — would bring more crime, litter and civil disturbances to the area. But members in favor of the study said a cleaner greenway would improve the quality of life for nearby residents. 
With the committee split, the board wasted little time delving into deliberations at its last meeting. 
Some members supported the feasibility study, arguing that it would give the board a better idea of what effect the greenway would have on its neighbors. “We’ve discussed several possibilities … but we don’t even know who really owns the property,” said board member Robert Silver. “Until we can actually find what’s being done, we’re just spinning our wheels.”
Other board members were reluctant to sign off on the study, fearing that other civic groups and community boards would misconstrue their endorsement as a stamp of approval for the greenway. “If you vote in favor of (the study), it sends the message that ‘I’m in’ (for the plan) … and no one can convince me otherwise’,” said Board Chairman Joseph Hennessy. 
Anderson made an amendment that added language to the proposal clarifying that any approval of a feasibility study would not mean the board agrees with the overall plan. “I want people to focus on the word ‘study’,” she asserted. “It’s just a study. We’re trying to get info.” 
Still, some members insisted that the study — which does not need the board’s approval to be implemented — was irrelevant from the start. If anything, critics said, the board should be voting to approve or reject the plan in its entirety. “We are already losing residents because of the noise in the community,” said board member Nancy Cohen, “and if we lose peace in our backyards, we’ll see our community decline.” 
Board member Barbara Stuchinski agreed, adding that several entities that already use land near the old tracks — including a parking garage near the Stop & Shop on Union Turnpike and the Forest Hills Youth Little League — would be relocated or removed by portions of the greenway that are on ground level. 
In the end, the board voted against the study 15 to 9. 
Jordan Sandke, director of the Rockaway Beach Branch Committee, which first proposed the greenway, said he was not surprised by the outcome. He added that even though the study did not require the board’s approval, he certainly would have enjoyed its support when seeking approval from city officials. 
“No matter what the outcome, it was good, because at least it was talked about with the people,” he said.


*

While this may all seem terribly sad, that all these efforts were pushed aside, there is still hope for these ideas to be implemented as the debate for a Queens Highline continue to this day. In the last two weeks, a few members of the Rockaway Beach Branch Committee have reached out to me, letting me know that I am not alone. They also invited me to a community board meeting, which I cannot wait to participate in!


I just want to simply say Thank You!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Design for the Hood

What Do You Want Your Hood to Look Like?







"I wanted to mention this project as being important to people taking control of their own communities. Far too often, a group of "experts" are brought in to a community and then decide what it should look like, leaving the community to either like or battle from the weakest position about what was already decided.

People must STAND UP, envision, and DEMAND what configuration, services & uses the futures of their communities will have. Otherwise, you will fall victim to the power-brokers who are only thinking about how much they can make on [Y]OUR community. Bed-Stuy is the latest one to be the target of these forces. In addition, communities of people of color, in particular, have traditionally been altered, overrun, and destroyed by these forces.

STOP the cycle...STOP the infantilization process that keeps us begging for services in our communities." - 
Darryl Montgomery-Hell of sektor 6 kommunications



Darryl brings up a poignant topic on the issue of the control we have (or give up by default) when it comes to where we live and what we choose by voting with our dollars and our voices.


What can you do right now to inspire more community action?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Friends for the Queens Highline

Great Minds Do Think Alike!

Photo by William Richard Seqeira
Friend and fellow environmentalist Gil Lopez found Alissa Wassung's post about creating A "Highline-like" project to turn the abandoned elevated subway track around the Rockaway Blvd stop on the A-line into a community produce garden on Change by US NYC. Since then I have reached out to Alissa and utterly pleased to find yet another Queens resident who is passionate about creating a green space out of the abandoned railroad.


I also came across William Richard Sequeira through a previous post on this blog, sharing his experience on this space:


"Hey Anandi, glad to see someone take the first steps in making the Queens Highline Park a reality in the future. Over the past summer I’ve been mountain biking at Forest Park on a weekly basis as a recreational sport and one day came across the abandon LIRR tracks where I grew curiosity to know where the tracks would end. In lure of a small adventure I decided the next day I would come with a friend and hike to the end of the line and maybe explore some artifacts left behind from the old railroad. Even though there could have been the possibility of encountering snakes, bats or raccoons due to all the fallen trees and obstacles along the way I felt confident enough to get by with my current experience walking railroad tracks as a NYC Transit employee. At the end of about 2 miles just past the overpass of NYC Transit’s in service A line at Rockaway Blvd all that was left was a few scratches, some mosquito bites, and the experience of hiking the future Queens High Line Park. Anandi, as an advocate for more mountain bike trails in the city, you have my total support in making this project a reality as I see it adding great value to the borough of Queens."


 and some of the photos from his collection:














And that's not all! Peter W. Beadle and the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee contacted me through facebook and a lovely email sent via to Joe Anuta after the Make unused Rockaway LIRR into greenspace: Activist article posted this weekend. I was so excited to find someone from the group that has been working on a proposal as my previous emails to them had bounced a few years ago and again most recently. Ivan Mrakovcic, a Community Board 9 member, wants a bike path on the tracks is also on the Rockaway Beach Branch Committee.

A post on the Sustainability Practice Network (SPN) blog inspired a response from a couple other Yay-Sayers:

  • Carlos Martinez, a Parks employee and resident of Jackson Heights, offered resources such as Partnerships for Parks's new program called People Make Parks
  • Mark Anthony ThomasDirector at City Limits stated, "This sounds great. and asked me to consider writing a piece for City Conversations. Hmm, you know, I think I might just do that :)
Needless to say, countless others continue to show support by commenting, sharing ideas, visions, and inspiring others like Michael Perlman and Russel Nelson. Thank you all!




Do you have any stories or photos to share? Let's talk!

Making Headlines

Make unused Rockaway LIRR into greenspace: Activist

Photo by Joe Anuta

Joe Anuta of the Times Ledger saw my tweets about the #QueensHighline and wanted to know more. We exchanged some conversations via email and phone. And then he wrote this piece: 

Make unused Rockaway LIRR into greenspace: Activist

I think his article that ran this week pretty much summed up the vision, helped others who are working on this proposal seek me out. I also started the Facebook Group (along with a strong suggestion by Michael Perlman!) to gather even more public support for this project. All are welcome to join as it's an open group and might have a larger audience than this is free-floating blog.

The Queens Crap posted Anuta's piece and received many comments: The Queens High Line?

Also The Sub Chat posted Anuta's article and gathered a large discussion about this proposal, most are for the rails being revitalized, think that Queens has enough parks or worry that a park in this area will breed rapists, muggers and other violent creatures.

What I want to know is: Why do some individuals get so nasty or hateful about green space and super defensive about cars or resurrected rails? There are parks or green spaces on nearly ever other block in Manhattan. Why argue against a greener and greater Queens?

What are your two cents?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mission Possible

Visualize it and It will Happen!

Here are the renderings from Urban Design Week. I’m not sure why they didn't call it the Queens Highline, but these sketches look pretty good and incorporated most of the ideas desired. I wish we had an opportunity to communicate with the designers and architects who worked on our ideas.



South Queens GREENway by Jennifer Cromie / Newtownards, UK
















Rockaway Greenway Queens by Achva Benzinberg Stein / New York, NY: http://www.urbandesignweek.org/1987893/






And then I was asked to speak...



Queens Museum of Art had a presentation of five of the best ideas & designs that address urban challenges relevant to both New York City & Detroit through the By the City / For the City project which invited architects, planners, artists, designers, and students around the world to participate in a collaborative re-imagining of New York City’s public realm on Sunday, Sept 18th: By the City / For the City QNS - An Urban Design Week Event

I was asked to speak for a few minutes and make a case for creating public spaces in unusual places. I gave a 5 minute presentation which I won't post right now as I'm adding charts and facts as I gather more pertinent information, especially focusing on the historical preservation, the value to the community and the need for such a space in Central to South Queens to create more awareness as to why restoration is essential and to build interest in this valuable space sooner rather than later.

What do you think of the renderings?

Monday, October 17, 2011

By the City / For the City




Answering the Call


I submitted a couple of ideas, including the Queens Highline when the Institute for Urban Design launched their Ideas Competition to Imagine the Future of NYC: By the City/ For the City where they sought to "gather up everyone's ideas: from local parks and squares to citywide issues like transit and pollution, what needs a re-design?" And offered a virtual space where we could "explore, discuss, and debate everyone's ideas."


By AAPremlall, Oct 2011

#284 Wouldn’t it be great if...The old, abandoned LIRR running from Forest Park to Rockaway Beach was turned into a simpler version of the HighLine with native plants, an edible garden, along with a bike and pedestrian path?


Where: 99th Street from Forest Park to Howard Beach (actually the unused part only goes to the intersection of Rockaway Boulevard & Liberty Avenue).


So that people could...enjoy more safer green spaces, reduce traffic across Queens, garden and spend time with the community through public programs. We could definitely use a park in this neighborhood!


Because I want the city to be...more bike and pedestrian friendly and safer over all. The area under these tracked are filled with makeshift garages, the surrounding area doesn't look very safe or welcoming for anyone walking or jogging. This area is highly underutilized and could make the neighborhood more beautiful.

http://www.urbandesignweek.org/by-the-city/reports/view/284



#283 Wouldn’t it be great if...there were more organic, edible community gardens as they are far and few in neighborhoods I grew up in. If they can be on rooftops that would be awesome and would utilize unused space.


Where: South Queens (Richmond Hill, South Richmond Hill,Forest Hills/Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Jamaica, South Jamaica, Far Rockaway)


So that people could...enjoy fresh affordable produce, connect with their communities, the earth, save money and live healthier lives.


Because I want the city to be...nourishing & flourishing, with food devoid of GMO's and harmful pesticides. As you can see from the attached links, we have very few community gardens in South Queens.


http://www.urbandesignweek.org/by-the-city/reports/view/283



#445 Wouldn’t it be great if...No Trace Left Behind was incorporated into all public spaces? (Oops that should be Leave No Trace, but you get it).


Where: All of New York City


So that people could...help maintain parks by learning to clean up after themselves though required service for using these spaces; use less single-use items (disposable plates, cups, utensils), and to compost organic waste so that we can ALL enjoy the beauty of our parks without being bombarded with trash, plastic bags, styrofoam and other garbage interrupting the landscape. It's really heartbreaking to those who do participate in beach/park clean-ups regularly and see how they're ruining our public spaces.
Because I want the city to be...beautiful, cleaner and contribute less trash to landfills; to be welcoming to all visitors, an example of how nature thrives in urban settings.

And here are a few honorable mentions:


#446 Wouldn’t it be great if...we had more CLEAN, public bathrooms that anyone can use http://www.urbandesignweek.org/by-the-city/reports/view/446


#447 Wouldn’t it be great if...there were more art studios and galleries http://www.urbandesignweek.org/by-the-city/reports/view/447


#577 Wouldn’t it be great if...all pubic schools were retrofit with green infrastructure, including a green roof and edible learning gardens? http://www.urbandesignweek.org/by-the-city/reports/view/577



You can view various reports from IfUD including the borough breakdown:


Queens residents shared 87 ideas for their borough (18% of the total). With 24 of those ideas relating to Recreation (31.5% of all ideas in that category), this was one of the only issues where an outer borough captured the largest percentage of ideas across the city. The top five categories across Queens were: Transportation; Green Space; Streetscapes; Recreation; and Culture/Public Art.


http://urbandesignweek.tumblr.com/post/5428386626/the-borough-breakdown


How would you improve on these ideas? What are yours?



Friday, October 14, 2011

Doctor's Orders!




Walk Two Trails and Call Me in the Morning!



Rails to Trails simply rocked my socks with their latest newsletter raving about the need for public spaces in areas like New York City. In fact, there have been a few articles from other sources about making of the Highline Park and how beneficial it is to the economy and those who enjoy this park in the sky (stay tuned for a dedicated post on the Guardian write up).



A sad but true statistic of how incredibly sedentary our lives have become: "Almost half of all urban trips in the United States are less than two miles, but almost all of these are taken by car. By choosing to walk rather than drive just a few times a week, we can all make a big difference to our personal health. Many doctors now believe that walking just 150 minutes a week can have marked impact on treating a range of problems, from depression to high blood pressure."



It seems counterproductive to go for a walk when the toxic fumes and noise from buses, trucks and cars overwhelm the streets and make it anything but relaxing. Unless you take the Q41 over to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge or the Q11 to Forest Park, there aren't safe and soothing spaces to walk in South Queens. The tracks in public school yards are closed to the public (yes, I checked). The therapeutic benefits of nature definitely won't kick when you're hitting the pavement around these parts.

"Over the past 50 years we have built landscapes that work for cars but not always for people. In many communities it is inconvenient, or even dangerous, to go for a walk, to try and live an active lifestyle, " stated RTC President Keith Laughlin. I'm not going to call any names ;)

More often than not, parents who live within ten blocks are driving their cars when dropping off and picking up their children from school (which, in my humble opinion, is not a far walk at all and would help to instill healthy habits and bonding time). You cannot tell me you haven't noticed the back-to-back traffic around elementary schools!


I fondly remember my grandpa walking my brothers, cousin and I to P.S. 55 every morning. And sometimes our neighbor's dog Romeo followed us all the way. Grandpa waited until we went inside, walked back home to 125 Street. Then he magically appeared again at 3:00PM to walk us back those 10 blocks. I relished those afternoons, finding treasures of acorns and colorful leaves, which I secretly tucked away into my dad's brown corduroy sport jacket as I skipped along the cracked sidewalks.

Laughlin's words are music to my ears, "At the local level, people are yearning for investments in their cities and towns that make them more livable and walkable." In other words, let's do this!




"The testimony of medical professionals is now adding to the growing weight of evidence that investing in biking and walking infrastructure will not only save the nation billions in reduced oil consumption and environmental mitigation, but also slash wasteful health care expenditure." What a fantastic argument to make for the Queens Highline (or any public space for that matter). I'm sure the Department of Transportation is thrilled to hear this!

On this happy and healthy note, I look forward to day when the Rail to Trails crew, our Mayor, Borough President, City Council Members, Community Boards and even the President of the United States come to my neighborhood for a walking tour of the Queens 
Highline.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Now? Why Not?





A Railroad Grows (and Grows!) in Queens




Jacek Yerka
I used to live right across from the end of the abandoned railroad that could be developed (by 99th Street and Rockaway Boulevard) and used to stare out my windows, wondering why nothing has been done to make better use of this currently wasted space. Then I thought how nice it would have been if I could just walk all the way down to Forest Park undisturbed. It was then that my curiosity go the best of me and I really asking questions and finding ways to make it happen.




Of course, the Highline Park becoming a reality in Manhattan gave me hope that this space didn't have to remain an eye sore and I did't have to feel eerie walking by the lonely streets with make-shift garages, sketchy characters and various businesses underneath: from auto-body shops to propane and poultry.




My vision for the Queens Highline more along the gritty and green side. Like Russ Nelson said in a previous post, it would be very community oriented, where we can all literally lend a hand in creating and caring for this park and build an open space for all to enjoy, where we feel safe walking, running, biking, or just relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea.


Perhaps it would motivate more residents will leave their cars home and to come out and explore their new backyard. Wouldn't a bit of solace closer to home be nice?


Here's the dream:
  • Beautiful native gardens designed by Marielle Anzelone of NYC Wildflower Week
  • Edible landscapes thriving with Newtown Pippins and complimentary pollinators, perhaps beach plums and other "wild edibles" designed by Gil Lopez of Nourishing Cities where Wild Man Steve Brill can lead foraging tours
  • With the help of advocates like Geoffrey Croft, Michael Perlman and other community leaders and residents, I truly believe that we will make this happen
  • Learning gardens like those of Rabindranath Tagore where the local artists share their talents
  • Health and fitness programs: yoga, meditation, tai chi, intensati, ayurvedic nutrition
  • Cultural programs reflecting the rich, diverse community of Central and South Queens
  • Initiatives that support sustainable lifestyles and foster community building
  • A compost demonstration site as part of NYC Compost Project in Queens
MTNYC Tree Planting in Far Rockaway
All in all, we're re-creating the community life that has been dwindling over the years with busy households who have hardly any time to enjoy a meal together. This is especially poignant right now where the new graduates, unemployed and underemployed (aka the 99%) are searching for something more substantial in their lives.


I certainly miss the days when children played hopscotch, basketball, hide-and-seek and other games with each other in the streets, when the ice cream truck could be heard blocks away, and we lined up for what seemed like forever with sweaty dollars and hungry bellies awaiting swirly cones with rainbow sprinkles.


Shall we, once again, embrace the beauty of the slow life, where we stop to savor the sweet moments, among the blur of this fast-paced city?

My Vision


Do You See What I See?

Photo by AAPremlall




This is what I see but not what I dream of seeing
Trees sprung from decaying tracks like phantom limbs
Sheltering debris, horizontal trunks and mysterious remains
Rarely do feet run upon the rails where trains did once
Semi-moist leaves and hungry mosquitoes lay waiting
For the curious trespassers who dare to claim
This land is my land
This land is your land
From one end of Forest Park 
All the way to Rockaway Boulevard






Sunday, October 2, 2011

Yay or Nay?

New Rails or New Trails?


Photo by AAPremlall


There has been much debate about what the Queens community wants and the LIRR has in store for this beautiful, crumbling abandoned railroad. 


I cannot say I wasn't delighted to read The Wave's article: MTA Derails Rockaway LIRR Plan



A study revealed that "the replacement of New York City Transit subway service to Far Rockaway with LIRR service and a restored Rockaway Beach Branch to White Pot Junction, while retaining NYC Transit service to Rockaway Park, "would be no net benefit to Rockaway commuters." The report states that 68 percent of Rockaway commuters who have destinations other than midtown Manhattan would not be served and the travel times of Far Rockaway commuters destined for lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn, and other areas of Queens would increase. The study further identified the following as reasons why the proposal was not feasible: LIRR track and terminal capacity constraints would limit or preclude LIRR Rockaway service in critical peak periods; the construction of a required new two-track trestle across Jamaica Bay would impact environmentally sensitive wetland areas; and the cost for construction is high, estimated to be $875 million.


"Face it, easy access to JFK is a smokescreen for what planners really want: increased commuter service for wealthy Long Islanders who work in the Financial District. Since the Rockaway Branch can't provide that, it's best future is as a bicycle path," commented Michael Deitsch succinctly after examining both sides in his blog.


Supportive actions have been made as indicated in Dreams and Schemes for an Abandoned Rail Line: "A bikeway would take this old, abandoned ugly structure and, if you have tree plantings on it and you could beautify it, it would add to the community," said Mary Ann Carey, district manager of Board 9. "It's not something that's going to happen overnight, but we know there is precedent for it." and "That line runs right behind all our homes and properties on 98th Street," Ms. Maria Thomson, Executive Director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation said, "and if it were reactivated, it would be a hazard to the residents and their quality of life."


And some semi-supportive ones as well: "A bike path for the next 20 or 30 years might not be so bad," Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, said. "It's a very comfortable use for it in comparison to selling it and putting a building on it. But I'd really like to reactivate it."




What do you think? Would a park in this area be worthwhile? Looking forward to your insights!