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

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.”

Group Envisions a High Line for Queens

The Queens Ledger gave us a bit of press!

Group envisions a high line for Queens
by Heather Senison
Jan 04, 2012 | 120 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents in Southern Queens are putting together a vision to transform the abandoned Rockaway Beach line railroad tracks into the borough's own version of the High Line - to be called The QueensWay.

Currently, the path is filled with litter, overgrown trees, thorns and crumbling wooden railroad tracks, and is home to a growing homeless population, said one of the project's coordinators Anandi Premlall.

"It would be great to transform this place that’s just been wasted here for almost 50 years," Premlall said.

The group wants to transform the tracks into a 3.5-mile park complete with walking and biking trails, native plants, play areas for children and meeting places for visitors.

"I think there’s a misconception that Queens is just one big park, or Queens is just so green," said Premlall, who's lived in Queens since she was five and currently lives near Rockaway Boulevard.

Although Queens has a few big parks, most of them are wooded or asphalt, she said.

"We want some love for Queens," she said.

The Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee started the project years ago, but were denied approval by the city.

Premlall liked the idea, so she submitted a proposal to the Institute for Urban Design's By the City / For the City call for ideas in Spring 2011, Premlall said.

After other supporters came forward, a steering committee was formed in December.

So far Friends of the QueensWay, comprised of local civic leaders and architects, gained support from more than 1,300 community members who signed their petition, in addition to the Trust for Public Land.

"We really want to show that we do have the community support and show that there is a strong need for this space," she said.

In addition to its overgrowth, the tracks are littered with electronic waste.

"I’m surprised that they were able to lug these heavy T.V.'s up there," Premlall said.

Due to the tracks' desolation, small businesses are hesitant to purchase space in the area, which deters shoppers and makes the area home mostly to warehouses and car repair shops.

"I never felt safe just even walking in that area," Premlall said.

However, the tracks' proximity to the Resorts World Casino, John F. Kennedy Airport and the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk make it an ideal place to attract tourists if it's cleaned up, she said.

"We will definitely bring a lot more traffic in the area," Premall said. "I would like to see more small businesses in the area."

Michael Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and board member of several other civic organizations, said The QueensWay would also provide a beautiful view of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.

"People should be creative visionaries," Perlman said, "and imagine how they can take their family and friends on a polished industrial relic bonding our Central and Southern Queens communities."

Visitors could enjoy "walking or bicycling through a 3.5-mile park and trail with trees and some native vegetation and edible gardens, while reuniting with old friends or establishing new friends from Queens' diverse communities," he added.

Friends of The QueensWay hope to get 2,000 signatures on their petition, which they will then bring to local community boards to push through the city's approval process.

The group plans to have a volunteer cleanup in the spring, and welcomes any other support the community can provide, Premlall said.

For more information on the project, visit or

Photos compliments of Anandi Premlall.

Read more: Queens Ledger - Group envisions a high line for Queens