An open discussion of and proposal to transform the abandoned LIRR tracks in South Queens into a public space that captures the gritty, earthy beauty of Queens and serves the community with a bike path and walking trails, native plants to attract local bees, edible trees and plants to provide sustenance, where children can play safely and elders have a place to gather, where artists and musician share their talents, where the community grows.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Convention Center vs. Greenway
Convention Center vs. Greenway
What a silly argument: “But I have constituents north of where the convention center would be who are strongly against a rail line or even a greenway. They like the way it is with the growing vegetation, and don’t want that disturbed by people with bikes or strollers.”
So they are for a massive convention center in the SOUTH (my neighborhood, which is totally unequipped for this) but against a greenway along 3.5 miles that would touch part of the NORTH side of the tracks.
Hmm...what does that say about whose voices get heard and where money comes from to do these types of projects?
Could Cuomo plan derail greenway?
Convention ctr. might bolster bid by Goldfeder for rebuilt rail line
PHOTO BY MICHAEL GANNON
Some residents want to create an elevated linear park along train tracks abandoned in 1962. But a convention center proposed near Aqueduct Racetrack could be the impetus for rebuilding tracks between Ozone Park and Rego Park.
Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:42 pm, Thu Jan 12, 2012.
Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder figured he’d be swimming against the tide last week when he proposed rebuilding a railroad between Ozone Park and Rego Park, where many are proposing a high-line park.
Then a day later Gov. Cuomo, in his State of the State address on Jan. 4, proposed building the country’s largest convention center near the new casino at the Aqueduct racetrack.
“The governor’s people briefed me just before the speech because it’s in my district,” he said. “I had no idea.”
Cuomo came out in support of a $4 billion proposal by Genting America to spend $4 billion on a convention center and 3,000 hotel rooms.
And he also may have given Goldfeder some serious justification for putting trains back on what was the Long Island Rail Road’s Rockaway line until 1962.
“While I’m a strong advocate of increased park space for Queens, I believe southern Queens and Rockaway would be better served with a railroad,” Goldfeder said.
The city now owns the land and the right of way along the 3.5-mile stretch. The rails, ties, platforms, switches and some towers remain in place, though the tracks and the ground beneath them have deteriorated.
Some portions, such as the trestle across Metropolitan Avenue, are impassable even on foot due to the tangle of trees and brush that has sprung up over the last 40 years.
Many residents and civic groups, such as the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee, are petitioning the city to pursue the project they call Queensway, which would turn the old railroad right of way into a park.
The aim would be to link neighborhooods for joggers, cyclists and walkers in a safe, traffic-free environment.
“I’m sure people in Rego Park and Forest Hills do want parks there,” Goldfeder said. “But then they already only have a 40-minute trip into Manhattan. For some of my constituents it takes an hour and 40 minutes.”
Goldfeder said he has not yet thought through details such as whether to return LIRR service or extend the MTA’s A Train service. He also would like to see proposals for extended AirTrain service, and believes that a convention center would draw investment in rail service.
“I’m opposed to Queensway if it would interfere with a new rail link,” he said.
But Andrea Crawford, president of Community Board 9 and a leader on the greenway committee, thinks the convention center and a rail line may not prove feasible.
Crawford said people coming to a convention center in the city want the ability to walk to restaurants, theaters and other amenities without having to take the subway.
“It doesn’t scale,” Crawford said. “You’re going to build a 2.5 million-square-foot convention center in Ozone Park when people don’t come to the Javits Center in Manhattan? I don’t understand it.”
A feasibility study for the greenway is being underwritten by the Trust for Public Lands. State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) has his own.
“Rockaway has to come into the conversation, and I would talk about service south of where the convention center would be located,” Addabbo said. “But I have constituents north of where the convention center would be who are strongly against a rail line or even a greenway. They like the way it is with the growing vegetation, and don’t want that disturbed by people with bikes or strollers.”