At the workshop held at Emanuel Christ Church in Woodhaven on Wednesday, Nov. 17, community members were given the opportunity to discuss the plan and give their input, but critics said that they were not given the opportunity to voice their opposition.
“In attendance at the meeting were residents of 98th Street as well as business owner who did not have the opportunity to voice their opinion,” said Assemblyman Michael Miller, who attended the event. “They were understandably angry.”
Miller said that upon entering the meeting, opponents of the plan were asked to sit at different tables from people who were in favor of the project, and that there was no open forum for community members to voice concerns.
"I completely disagree with Assemblyman Miller's assessment regarding the meeting," said Andrea Crawford, steering committee member of Friends of QueensWay and Community Board 9 member. "This wasn't segregating people. If anything it was empowering everyone to participate."
Crawford explained that separating people into small groups made the conversation less stagnant and gave everyone the opportunity to ask more questions than they would in a traditional town hall-type forum.
"It created an environment where you pull the politics out of things and sit in small groups and engage in discussion," she said. "People are now better informed."
The Friends of the QueensWay, working with the Trust for Public Land, have scheduled additional workshops at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and 103-02 101st Ave. in Jamaica on Wednesday, Nov. 20.
The group is turning to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for outreach, and have set up a website for people unable to make one of the three workshops to post their opinions and ideas.
Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, said she would be in favor of the creating a park, but doesn’t think it should run all the way through Queens.
“Leave Woodhaven out of it completely and shorten it,” she said.
Thomson fears that the QueensWay will become a safety concern.
“The police will be taken away from community to police this area because it will need policing,” she said. “We cannot spare police officers.”
The Queens Public Transit Committee is also opposed to the QueensWay project, and is instead pushing for the return of rail service to the discontinued line, which has been out of service since the 1960s.
“The Rockaway Beach line is the key to prosperity in Queens,” said Philip McManus, the group’s founder, who added he wasn't against parks. “I love parks. I wish the QueenWay people would put this much energy into the [Rockaway] boardwalk.”