The area that has drawn most attention in Woodhaven is directly behind the houses of residents on 98th Street, and they came up with a couple of options designed to try and address their concerns of privacy.
In a nutshell, the proposal is that a path would be dug down the center of the high hill that currently exists with the earth being pushed to either side to provide a barrier between the path and residents’ homes. On both sides of these barriers would be vegetation and fencing which they claim will keep the homes invisible from the path and vice versa.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the project is still a deeply flawed fantasy with serious questions that the group is unable to address.
Within the last few weeks, a couple of ridiculous renderings were released showing various scenes of bliss and harmony; children and butterflies playing together in a field of flowers and sunshine. However, there was one really important thing they neglected to Photoshop into any of their fantastical renderings.
After all of the discussions and concerns about safety and security at their workshops last November, it was hard to believe that the group would come back to us and fail to address lighting.
We’re sensitive to this issue. Last summer, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proved to be entirely incompetent in keeping the existing Greenway in Forest Park adequately lit. Runners and walkers were left to stumble around in the dark toting flashlights.
Even a serial rapist stalking Forest Park was not enough to generate a sense of urgency strong enough for DOT to fix the problem.
The QueensWay group has come up with a unique approach to the lighting problem – they ignored it completely!
The one QueensWay rep I spoke with helpfully offered up the notion that the path wasn’t really supposed to be used at night. “Neither is the alley next to my house,” I told her. “That’s why we light it up.” I don’t think this logic made any sense to them.
In the end, all of the hard work they did to address security was thrown out the window by the failure to consider how this thing was going to be lit.
Beyond lighting, there are other important questions which remain unanswered. For example, how much is this fantasy going to cost? Why is that important to know? Because currently there isn’t enough money to adequately maintain the existing 538 acres of land and pathways in Forest Park.
Take a brief walk between the Bandshell and Oak Ridge and you will find sidewalks that are crumbled and in many spots, completely gone; roadways and paths that are eroded and have long been in need of maintenance.
A massive parks project such as this is going to deplete the insufficient resources we already have supporting our existing park land. When asked about the cost and effect that a QueensWay would have, the answers I heard were as much a fantasy as the renderings they presented.
One answer was that dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on this would encourage the city to spend even more on the park attached to it.
Another was that a good deal of the cost would be offset through fundraising.
Please stop, you’re killing me.
They mean well, and their intentions are good, but when it comes to the tough questions there are too many “if's” and “maybe's” preceding their answers.
The fantasy they’ve concocted might translate into some fantastic sketches and renderings, but fantasy doesn’t serve us well when dealing with real-world problems.