Community Unites for Earth Day Cleanup Event on Future QueensWay Park


A diverse group of volunteers gathered on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park, organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

In a collective effort to revitalize a neglected part of Queens, a diverse group of volunteers joined forces on April 20 for an Earth Day cleanup event along the future site of the QueensWay park.

Organized by Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, NYC Parks, and Councilmember Schulman, the Community Impact Day aimed to foster community engagement while laying the groundwork for the transformation of a disused railway into a vibrant public space.

The event, which drew over 75 participants, saw residents don gloves and utilize provided cleanup materials to rid the designated area of debris, marking a significant step toward realizing the ambitious vision for the QueensWay. Volunteers traversed a portion of the planned 4.5-mile park, spanning from Rego Park to Ozone Park, focusing their efforts on areas earmarked for phase one and phase two development.

With over 75 participants, residents donned gloves and utilized cleanup materials to rid the area of debris, marking progress towards transforming the neglected railway into a vibrant public space. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Gary Weinstey, volunteer and sustainability manager at JFK underscores the significance of community engagement in creating a green space for the benefit of all stakeholders in Queens. 

“Today we are giving back out to the community and creating a green space and for the benefit of the Queens residents and to give back and provide a healthy a green space for the community,” Weinstey said. “It’s important to have a healthy green space that is as free of pollution and waste and to give an opportunity to the future generations to be able to have a space for greenery, and for some nature and for some environmental conservation.” 

Despite the daunting task of tackling environmental neglect, volunteers remained undeterred, recognizing the importance of their contribution to the revitalization efforts. While acknowledging that some debris may require heavy machinery for removal, participants expressed satisfaction with the impact they were able to achieve.

“I think it made a big difference,” remarked one volunteer. “Sure, there’s still work to be done, but events like these are crucial for fostering a sense of stewardship and pride in our community.”

Reuben Ramale, a board member of Friends of the QueensWay and volunteer highlighted the importance of community involvement in celebrating Earth Day and engaging residents in learning about the QueensWay project. As a resident of Woodhaven, with Forest Park as his local park, he emphasized the significance of initiatives like the cleanup event in transforming neglected spaces into vibrant community assets. 

“This is just our opportunity to one, celebrate Earth Day, but then also engage the community members to come out and get to learn a little bit more about the Queensway,” Ramale said. “For the last two and a half hours we’ve been cleaning this area, and there’s always more than enough trash to pick up around here.”

The cleanup event not only served as an opportunity to physically improve the future QueensWay but also as a platform for community members to connect and reaffirm their commitment to the project. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant has provided a significant boost to the ambitious QueensWay project, fueling efforts to transform a neglected 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railway into a vibrant linear park and cultural greenway in Central Queens. Led by the Friends of the QueensWay (FQW) in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, the project has garnered widespread support since its inception in 2011, with the aim of revitalizing the area and enhancing the quality of life for residents of Queens and beyond. 

The recent announcement of a $117 million federal grant further fuels efforts to transform the abandoned railway into a seven-mile greenway, offering new connections between neighborhoods and promoting health and connectivity. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

The grant, issued as part of the “Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Program – Neighborhood Access and Equity Program” by the U.S. Department of Transportation, represents a pivotal moment in the initiative’s progress, signaling a commitment to fostering community cohesion and investing in transformative infrastructure projects.

With a specific focus on the Forest Park Pass project, the grant will support the extension of the QueensWay into Forest Park, encompassing approximately 1.3 miles of greenway, new greenway bridges, recreational amenities, and connections to existing facilities. Once completed, the QueensWay will span seven miles of greenway, providing new connections between neighborhoods and offering New Yorkers a safe and accessible way to enjoy the outdoors. This latest infusion of federal funding propels the QueensWay project into its next phase of development, poised to realize a vision of a dynamic urban green space that promotes health, connectivity, and community engagement.

Volunteers from diverse backgrounds join forces to clean up debris along the future site of the QueensWay park, marking Earth Day with community action. Credit: Mohamed Farghaly.

Ryan Matt, Community Outreach Coordinator for Trust for Public Lands, reflects on the significance of community engagement in events like the Earth Day cleanup for the QueensWay. 

“We had about 75 plus people come out and help us clean up the cleans the Queensway this morning,” Matt said. “It’s been a great turnout and we had a really nice morning, what was kind of to draw attention to this abandoned rail, which actually was just funded by the federal government to be built into a park. The full park would span 4.5 miles from Rego Park all the way down to Ozone.” 

Matt emphasizes the importance of stewardship and connection to the land, highlighting that the QueensWay is not just a tourist attraction but a space intended for the local community. 

Reflecting on the success of the cleanup event, organizers encouraged interested individuals to stay informed and get involved in future initiatives by joining the QueensWay email list, following social media channels, and reaching out directly to learn more about opportunities for participation.

For more information and to join the community effort, visit and follow @QueensWayNYC on social media.

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