QueensWay debate divides the borough
by Chase Collum
Dec 17, 2013 | 1656 views | 4 4 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two months after the initiation of a state-funded feasibility study focused on determining whether it is possible to turn a 3.5-mile section of the now-defunct LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a “High Line-style”greenway, many Woodhaven residents are still not convinced the project will be a positive change in their community.

While the project has earned the support of thousands through social media and public relations campaigns, several Woodhaven residents of their concerns about security, parking, property devaluation, encroachment on private backyard space, funding and sustainability at a meeting of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) on Monday evening at Emanuel United Church of Christ.

Construction began on the Rockaway Beach Branch rail line in 1877. In the mid-1950s, the city acquired the lower half of the line running from Ozone Park to the Rockaways and converted that section of the tracks to accomodate the A train, which still services the area today.

After a series of track fires on the trestles between Rego Park and Ozone Park and in light of decreased ridership, the LIRR discontinued service on the line indefinitely in 1962.

It has become common to compare the QueensWay plan to The High Line in Chelsea that was built on an abandoned rail line, but Dolores Rosado said that despite similarities, the two projects are by no means the same.

“Friends of the High Line raised their essential private funds for the 1.4-mile trail and 90 percent of its operating costs are covered by private donations,” Rosado said.

Rosado feels that the concerns of Woodhaven residents are going unaddressed by Friends of the QueensWay, and is especially concerned about the issue of security.

“Crime at the city parks increased 44 percent this year, and Forest Park had a very high number of serious crimes,” she said. “We don’t have enough parks patrol officers, and the 102nd Precinct covers a lot of territory. Why would we want to expand on more public space? Personally, I would like to see improvements on the many existing trails that we have in our park.”

Neil Giannelli, a spokesperson for No Way QueensWay, cited concerns about property devaluation for homeowners whose property borders the proposed greenway, citing a 2003 Reed College study by Dr. Noelwah Netusil.

Netusil’s study found that “specialty parks, trails, and cemeteries within 200 feet of property were found to have a statistically significant effect on a property’s sale price,” and that “trails and cemeteries were estimated to decrease a property’s sale by 6.81 percent and 4.86 percent respectively.”

“I waited 40 years to buy a home,” said Giannelli. “Now they’re threatening my real estate value.”

Even as the Friends of the QueensWay see Governor Andrew Cuomo’s endorsement of a feasibility study as positive progress, Christine Barbour feels that it is an underhanded move from a governor who doesn’t want to have to put money into reestablishment of LIRR service.

“Governor Cuomo was more than happy to send down $467,000 for the feasibility study because it was for the greenway, and the greenway is a city unit; it’s not a state unit,” said Barbour. “If it’s anything mechanical, the state is going to have to pay for that. He doesn’t want that on his books. We can be stuck with the greenway if that happens, and we will also be stuck with higher taxes.”

Arlene Annunziada felt that the money being spent on this feasibility study was a waste, and would be better used to bolster school budgets and local businesses, a point that Thomas Aiello agreed with wholeheartedly.

“You’re closing down schools, you’re closing down hospitals, you’re spending all of this money, for what? ” Aiello asked. “You put a park you want to walk on? You want to walk, walk on the street, walk on the sidewalk. You don’t have to walk on a walkway.”

Maria Thompson, the WRBA’s financial secretary, felt that Friends of the QueensWay should “leave Woodhaven out of the equation because it’s going to do nothing for us.”

“The people that run on the [QueensWay], they’re not going to come to Jamaica Avenue to eat something or shop,” said Thomson, who is also executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation. “They’re there to run, to exercise, and they’re not going to do anything for our avenue or our commerce.

When they keep on running, we’re left with the security problems if there are any,” she continued. “We’re left with debris if there’s any, and we’re left with everything to clean up after they finish running.”

WRBA president Edward Wendell said that while many residents are currently against the QueensWay project, if the Friends of QueensWay were able to develop a sustainable plan for the maintenance and security of the park that it is still possible to change many Woodhaven residents’ minds.

“Prove to us that you can solve these problems and get this thing into the model of what you plan to bring into our neighborhood, and I think you’ll find a much more receptive community,” Wendell said.

Ivan Mrakovic, vice chair of Community Board 9, urged community members with concerns to withhold judgment on the proposed project, as they have only begun the process of finding whether the QueensWay is a feasible option.

“This feasibility study, which just got started in October of 2013, is a ten-month process, so we’re two months into it,” he said. “It’s going to be a very methodical process. We’re just in the beginning of the process so I beg your patience.”

Mrakovcic maintained a positive outlook after the forum ended, even though many Woodhaven residents are opposed to the idea of a greenway cutting through their neighborhood.

“I thought this was going to be an anti-QueensWay and probably anti-rail activation, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that there’s a good debate and people are more open-minded than I was expecting,” he said.

Deborah Zombek, who lives near 98th Avenue, said after the forum she is torn between the choice of a rail line and a greenway, but she agrees that the space needs to be put to use one way or another.

“I’m still split between everything. I think the light rail would be good to get into Manhattan, I think the bike path would be good for the neighborhood, but now hearing everybody’s arguments about security and if they come into the neighborhood, where are they going to park?” asked Zombek. “But I don’t want to see the land just sit there like it’s been.”

Comments
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Philip McManus
|
February 03, 2014
Our leaders in government need to wake up and support faster transportation before we lose jobs and tax revenues.

The disastrous delays and overcrowding to get to the Super Bowl by mass transit is an illustration of the crisis.

We need faster transportation options asap. We need more buses, trains, ferries, carpooling, bikes, HOV lanes, express buses to Manhattan and new buses and trains from the Bronx to Queens to Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Imagine the business and jobs created and the unity for our City.

Imagine if everyone in the City could get to any neighborhood within the City within one hour by public and private transit.

Do you think this would save time and money for everyone?

We need to use every possible roadway, highway, bridge, tunnel, waterway and unused train tracks like the Queens Rockaway Beach Line and TriBoro RX.

I refuse to exclude any transit options to get around. Everyone uses a car once in a while especially when they go shopping.

I'm a proponent of faster transportation and expanding our transit system across the region so people can be more productive at work, home, and their communities.

Thank you to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, New York Daily News, Congressmen Meeks and Jeffries, State Senator Avella, Queens Community Boards 5 and 14 for their support of faster, better transportation.

Please ask your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:



http://www.rockawaybeachrail.com/

•change.org/petitions/governor-andrew-m-cuomo-reactivate-the-lirr-rockaway-line-in-central-queens

http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Phillip-Goldfeder/story/45022/

http://www.keeprockawayferry.com

Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee

718-474-0315



718-679-5309



rowing612@aol.com



https://m.facebook.com/RockawayBeachRailLine?id=100952823448998&refsrc=http://www.google.com/&_rdr

Twitter.com/RBL1910



http://rockawaybranchline.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-queens-public-transit-committee-for.html?m=1

www.QueensPublicTransit.com
Glenn DiResto
|
December 24, 2013
The Queens Way Park is a beautiful Idea. However, re-opening the Rockaway Line of the LIRR is a MUCH BETTER Idea. It would provide ALL the residents of Queens and the City with fast accessible transportation. Those who live in the areas serviced by the Rockaway Line would be able to commute back and forth to work in about half the current time. Every New Yorker in the City would be able to finally access Shopping in Queens, JFK Airport, Resorts World Casino and the Beaches of Rockaway with ease. It would open a transportation corridor from South Queens to the middle of Queens and create endless economic opportunities for the forgotten borough. The ease of Transportation will make the areas of Queens serviced by the Rockaway Line more desirable to live, improving economic opportunity and property values.

The significant housing development and a growing population of Queens make the need for the Re-opening of the Rockaway Line a no brainier. To put a park on this right away would be a travesty considering most of the areas of Queens close to the proposed Queensway already have Forest Park and with the continued growing population of New York City and Queens the need for additional Park space is not as crucial as the need for faster and accessible transportation.

Many say if you are opposed to the Queens Way you are against the environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. I cannot think of any better way to reduce air pollution and fight traffic congestion than re-opening the Rockaway Line. It would cut the use of vehicles along the Woodhaven corridor by providing people with better transportation alternatives. As we all know traffic congestion causes CO2 emissions to be spewed into the air, polluting our environment and neighborhoods. Don’t be fooled, the Re-Opening the Rockaway Line is an environmentally friendly project that will improve our air quality.



Many say it will take years to build. Well any major infrastructure undertaking takes careful planning and many years of construction to come to fruition. Look at the 2nd Ave Subway it was first proposed in 1929 and is only now becoming a reality. How about the extension of the #7 train to the West Side of Manhattan, it will be opening next year, or how about East Side Access corridor that will bring the LIRR into Grand Central. All these major undertakings are huge projects and take time to complete, but in the long run will make our city a much better place.



Many say who is going to pay for it? Well just like any other major infrastructure project, the re-opening of the Rockaway Line would Not be funded by one single source. This project could be funded just like many of the other large capital improvement projects around the City. This project would be a partnership between the Feds, State and City. The Federal Transportation Administration, The City of New York, State of New York and the MTA could all chip in to make this a reality. Selling bonds is another way a being able to pay for the Rockaway Line that would only be fraction of the cost of any of the major MTA projects I mentioned above.



Some say build the Queens Way and we can have our own High Line right here in Queens. Under normal circumstances I would have to agree. But, to deny the people of this city and Queens better transportation to build a scenic walkway is NOT the answer. One must remember, we are not Manhattan and tourists are not naturally attracted to visit this area of queens. However, build faster transportation, let them know then can use it to go to the Airport of Casino or even the beach in only 30 min from Midtown Manhattan and watch them come in large numbers. Also, one must remember the High Line was an abandon rail line that would have either become the High Line or it would have needed to been demolished at a significant cost. The scenarios of the High Line and the Queens Way are totally different and should not be compared.



Many have said you can’t re-open the Rockaway Line because people have built along the right of way. Unfortunately, for these homeowners who happen to live along the Right of Way they are obviously opposed to the re-opening of the line. But should tens if not hundreds of thousands of people be denied faster and more affordable and accessible transportation for the benefit of a few?? The residents along the right of way who purchased knew or should have known that these abandon rails could once again be activated by the MTA. I hate to say it but in real estate there is a phrase called Caveat Emptor which means "Buyer Beware." We must never forget that we ALWAYS have to invest in our future and the Rebuilding of the Rockaway Line is a way to do it.

Philip McManus
|
December 19, 2013
Do you hate your stressful commute? Is it too long, overcrowded and unreliable?

Why does Queens have so much congestion and overcrowded roadways, buses and trains?

Why does it take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours to cross from North Queens to South Queens?

Why are commuters forced to take numerous unnecessary transfers to get from north, south, east and west in Queens?

Why don't we use all our roadways, bridges, tunnels and unused train tracks to reduce travel times?

We the people who organized the Queens Public Transit Committee want faster transportation for your destination, work, home, school, shopping, recreation, etc. If your destination is faster so will our destination be faster.

We know that safe, fast, reliable transportation will help create more social and economic opportunities and a better life for everyone.

It boggles my mind that we do not expand our transit system for ourselves and our children.

A growing economy is the best government program for our City.

The most important correlation to our economy is transportation and education.

We must be able to move freely, quickly and be free to learn and train for our future careers.

Our standard of living is in decline because we have a corrupt government and society that would rather lie to the people and not live by the Truth.

We need to grow and build community support for faster transportation, including the Queens Rockaway Beach Line.

The reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line (RBL) will expand the NYC transit system, increase social and economic opportunities for all, while increasing property values and tax revenues. It's good for Queens.



The RBL will decrease pollution, accidents, unemployment, crime and government dependence, reduce present and future overcrowding and unreliable buses, trains and roadways at a much, much greater level than the QueensWay plan.

The QueensWay plan will only benefit a few people and a small area of Queens. It's the small plan while the transportation plan is the big plan, the most inclusive plan.



Reusing the Queens RBL for transportation is the best plan. It will reunite north and south Queens, decrease travel times and increase investments for everyone especially the poor and middle class areas that are underserved, excluded and separated from the American dream.



The QueensWay plan and the No Way plan are exclusive and divide our borough. It also prevents development and investments in Queens.

The borough of Queens needs jobs

and businesses for all the people so we can grow and help each other.

The NIMBY plan is called the Do Nothing Plan because it does very little to support Queens and the city.

Please support our cause and our group. We need to educate and organize the people to promote faster transportation and significantly reduce travel times.



Please ask your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:



http://www.rockawaybeachrail.com/

•change.org/petitions/governor-andrew-m-cuomo-reactivate-the-lirr-rockaway-line-in-central-queens

http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Phillip-Goldfeder/story/45022/

http://www.keeprockawayferry.com

Philip McManus

Queens Public Transit Committee

718-474-0315



718-679-5309



rowing612@aol.com



https://m.facebook.com/RockawayBeachRailLine?id=100952823448998&refsrc=http://www.google.com/&_rdr

Twitter.com/RBL1910



http://rockawaybranchline.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-queens-public-transit-committee-for.html?m=1



www.QueensPublicTransit.com
Sonia E. Lugo
|
December 18, 2013
I would like to thank the Ed Wendell and Woodhaven Resident Block Association for hosting a meeting/open forum for the Woodhaven community so that everyone can express themselves. It is obvious that the Woodhaven community has legit concerns. We have been trying to communicate these issues to "The Friends of the Queensway". In my opinion, they have not been so friendly with us. It's like we are a thread to them.He had never had the opportunity to held a open public forum with them. They offered public forums, but this never happened. Their "workshop" that was held last month, was a joke. They even brought in the police. What were they afraid of? We are not ignorants. We have the right to express our concerns and execute the right of free speech. The WRBA stepped up and in a very profesional and honesty way. The Woodhaven community spoke. Why is that "The Friends of The Queensway" was never able to have an open discussion with this community? As home owners and residents of Woodhaven, we will not stop fighting this battle. So far, none of our questions have been answered. NoWayQueensway.org.