Queensway Plan Leaders Praise Queens College Survey

The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay today praised the newly released Queens College survey on the use of the former Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Rockaway Beach Branch (RBB) line, saying the survey shows local support for a new park along the old rail line.

“This is good news for the QueensWay and we are grateful for the work of the Queens College team, who join several other colleges and universities who have studied and supported the QueensWay,” said Marc Matsil, New York Director of The Trust for Public Land. “We are pleased by the immense outpouring of support from the community and local elected public officials for the QueensWay. They all recognize it will provide safe access to recreation for the 322,000 people who live within a mile, will boost local businesses; will provide alternative transportation choices; and will help fill a significant park equity void. We look forward to working with Queens residents to build New York’s next great park.”

The Queens College study looked at different potential uses for the old LIRR tracks and found some residents preferred building the QueensWay, while others preferred using the corridor for transportation. The study showed no major statistical preference for rail.

“After reviewing the findings in this study, we could not be more confident in the QueensWay’s potential to improve communities,” said Travis Terry, of Friends of the QueensWay. “Better open space and transportation in Queens is critical to the growth of the borough. Multiple studies by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority have shown that rail is not a viable option because of the extraordinary cost of building it, the significant increase in cost to commuters to use it, and the environmental and quality of life damage and disruption it would cause to the existing regional rail system.”

“But we can solve for the significant need in open space by creating 47 acres of park space in the QueensWay and address transportation needs in a very significant way by creating a safe way for biking and pedestrian use,” Terry noted. “Thank you to Queens College for providing this helpful information.”

Both Terry and Matsil noted the QueensWay plan has been endorsed by a large number of elected officials, including Reps. Joseph Crowley and Grace Meng, both of whom are from Queens; New York state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky of Queens; New York Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi of Queens; and New York City Council Member Karen Koslowitz of Queens.

Last month, the two organizations released the QueensWay plan, a blueprint for the 3.5 mile-long QueensWay. For more information, visit www.thequeensway.org.

In 2013, a public poll of Queens residents showed strong support for the QueensWay.

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. 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 (FQW) is a grassroots community organization – consisting mainly of Central and Southern Queens residents – who are advocating for the conversion of the long-abandoned, 3.5 mile, 47 acre LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a family-friendly public park that can be enjoyed by bikers, walkers, joggers, visitors, tourists, workers and residents in Queens. It is FQW’s intention to plan the reuse of this property in a way that not only creates an iconic park but also sparks economic and cultural development, improves the quality of life and environment, and provides greater access to all that Central Queens has to offer including a direct, fast and safe link to Forest Park.