Proposed QueensWay Study Finally Gets Underway

December 28, 2012
New York

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has awarded The Trust for Public Land a $467,000 grant to study the feasibility of converting a dormant 3.5 mile long former Long Island rail line in Queens into a public greenway.

If the proposed "QueensWay" is eventually built, it would connect the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park to Forest Park, and provide a new pedestrian and bike path, public green space, and cultural greenway, all of them celebrating the diversity of Queens with art, sculpture, and food from around the world. The new park would serve 250,000 residents who live within one mile and provide a significant economic boost to the borough.

According to a study conducted by The New York Parks & Conservation Association and The Business Council of New York State, Inc., titled Greenways & Trails: Bringing Economic Benefits to New York, "Greenways and community trails can bring new economic vitality to New York's cities, towns, and villages. They enhance the quality of life, a critical factor in attracting and retaining business. Greenways and trails can also inspire renewed civic pride and provide a fresh focus for community activities." Read the study online here.

"The Trust for Public Land is elated by Governor Cuomo's announcement that we have been awarded an Environmental Protection Fund grant through the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to conduct a feasibility study," said Marc Matsil, The Trust for Public Land's New York State director. "Over the next year, we will conduct environmental and engineering analyses, as well as a community visioning that will determine ultimate costs to turn a blighted rail line into an uninterrupted bike and walking path. The project would help to catalyze economic development and celebrate the immense cultural diversity of Queens."

The Trust for Public Land, working with the Friends of the QueensWay, a group of neighborhood advocates, will assess the structure and analyze environmental conditions, including trestles, bridges and embankments. The final report will reflect the views of local residents and provide the road map for a new, iconic park.

"We are now one step closer to the creation of the QueensWay thanks to this important grant by the State of New York. When completed, the 3.5 mile QueensWay will improve quality of life, create much-needed park space and generate new economic benefits for the residents, workers, visitors and businesses in the borough of Queens," said Friends of the QueensWay Steering Committee member Travis Terry. "We are truly grateful to Governor Cuomo for this grant and to all of our local elected officials, The Trust for Public Land and the vast number of community organizations, residents and businesses for their input on the project."

Andrea Crawford, chairwoman of Queens Community Board No. 9 said, "Community Board 9 has supported the idea of turning the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR into a greenway since at least 2007. Queens, as a whole, has a paucity of open public land to service its diverse and growing communities. Once the QueensWay is underway it will help link all of the wonderful neighborhoods that run along the QueensWay."

"This project will be welcome in Queens. The area is virtually devoid of public open space, other than Forest Park and that is difficult to access," said Matsil. "The little available green space is heavily used by youth, parents with young children, and the large population of senior citizens."

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.

The Friends of the QueensWay is an organization of Queens residents whose mission it is to transform the abandoned and blighted 3.5 miles of the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch - which currently extends from Rego Park and Forest Hills through Forest Park and into Ozone Park in Queens - into a new linear park and cultural greenway. In addition to the creation of new park space, FQW strongly believes that the QueensWay will improve quality of life while generating significant economic benefits for the residents, workers, businesses and visitors to Central and Southern Queens and the City of New York as a whole. Learn more at www.thequeensway.org.