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.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Queens Fights for a High Line of Its Own
Plea for a Public Space
What are your thoughts about a 3.5 mile linear park that would stretch from Ozone Park to Rego Park, Queens?
Alex Daviesof TreeHugger/Discovery wrote about the QueensWay (aka Queens HighLine) and sums up what we (Friends of The QueensWay) are trying to do for the Queens community and how this project received some new life in 2011.
We have about 1,450 signatures and would appreciate the support of you, your friends and community: chn.ge/queensway
We all have a voice and each one counts tremendously. Please feel free to share, tweet, post, blog and tell your neighbor about this project.
Let me know if you're interested in helping with a clean up in the spring as we're seeking volunteers.
Will you help me make this dream a reality by sharing the petition or article with at least one person?
Manhattan may have broken ground with the hugely popular High Line park, but if a group of Queens residents gets its way, it won't be the only borough with an abandoned railway converted into a park. The Friends of the Queensway have set their sights on a 3.5 mile stretch of tracks of the defunct Rockaway Beach Branch rail line, which has been out of service since 1962.
While the QueensWay is in some ways inspired by the High Line (and its chances for approval are multiplied by that project's success), it would be a rather different sort of place. Anandi Premlall, a project coordinator, describes the group's vision for the park as more of an outdoors community center than tourist attraction. It would include community gardens, spaces for relaxing and for public events, as well as a bike path.
In fact, the bike path is the original idea that sparked the grander vision. Years ago, the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee proposed converting the railway into a cycling-oriented greenway. Queens has many fewer miles of safe bike lanes than Manhattan, and the old elevated railway could provide a vital piece of cycling infrastructure.
The IUD got behind the idea, and the ball was rolling. Local newspaper The Times Ledger picked up the story, and Premlall joined with the group that first called for the creation of the greenway. They discovered that others proposals existed for the railway, including one to make it into a community garden. They all joined forces, and Friends of the Queensway was born.
The next step is to raise $500,000 for a feasibility study to look at the structural integrity of the railway line and see what exactly can be done with it. After that, the real work will begin. The tracks are really run down; some parts look more like wild forests than New York City. They're littered with busted televisions and are home to a growing homeless population.
Nevertheless, Premlall believes the Queensway is a “tremendous opportunity for economic development." It could make the area more popular and safer, and attract small businesses.
The vision of the Friends of the Queensway doesn't look very much like Manhattan's High Line, but Premlall says they have one feature in common: the will to “gather forces and money and create a really amazing public space.”