The emotional statement by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz opposing the reopening of the Rockaway Beach Line recalls a meeting we had with the councilwoman and Assemblyman Michael Cohen, who also represented Forest Hills, about 12 years ago.
After a mass meeting with hundreds of Rockaway residents and a petition campaign coordinated by Lew Simon that collected thousands of signatures supporting the RBB rail line, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer set up a meeting at Koslowitz's office to resolve our differences.
Koslowitz and Cohen spoke calmly and rationally. They raised questions about vibrations from passing trains and the blowing of train whistles. We assured them that vibration from a properly laid and maintained roadbed is minimal and train whistles would not be frequent. Train whistles are required at grade crossings. There are no grade crossings on the Rockaway line and none are anticipated.
Our only difficulty was that as private citizens we could not make binding promises about their concerns. We would join them in demanding that the MTA guarantee these provisions in the specifications they issues for the contractors.
There are a small number of homeowners who will remain in opposition. During a walking tour on the railroad right of way behind a small community called Forest Hills Crescents, we noted a number of backyards that had been enlarged to encroach on the right of way. Foliage had been removed and lawns were extended onto city property.
On Monday June 18, Rockaway residents will have an opportunity to meet with other Queens residents and help convince them that reopening the Rockaway Beach line would benefit almost all Queens residents. The meeting will be at the Maple Grove Center, 127-15 Kew Gardens Road. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with presentations to begin at 7:30 p.m.