The plan to turn a 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned railroad tracks in Queens into a vibrant park now has a blueprint. The detailed study released today by the Trust for Public land includes a cost breakdown, economic and transportation analyses, and detailed outlines for such amenities as exercise areas and a sports pavilion. Now supporters (and detractors) of the Queensway can move the conversation forward.
The park would connect Rego Park to Ozone Park with a lush walkway and bike path, indirectly linking the Gateway National Recreation Area to Forest Park in the middle to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The official plan, prepared by WXY architecture + urban design and DLANDStudio Architecture & Landscape Architecture, aims to offer more traffic to local businesses, more park space to locals, a safer route for cyclists, and other diversions and attractions along the path.
The new study says the Queensway would cost $122 million. For comparison, stack that up to the $66 million that Hunters Point South Park cost. On the higher end, a pricetag of $152 million applied to High Line phases 1 and 2, $275 million for Brooklyn Bridge Park, and $430 million for Hudson River Park. (Apparently, waterfront parks are particularly pricey.) Potential funding, it says, could include philanthropy, "value capture," earned income and public funding, which might include federal transportation dollars because of the bike trail.
Other details of the study address concerns such as privacy for neighbors by way of shrubbery buffers and fencing. Lighting would also be directed in such a way not to bother those who live just outside. But the study, naturally, emphasized more of the positives, such as four main activity areas, separated pedestrian and bike trails, "learning landscapes" for nearby schools, and all the hypothetical new visitors to the borough who would stop at shops and eateries. The study estimated there would be 1 million visits per year to the Queensway, with 250,000 people from outside the borough. These people, the study says, will spend between $7 and $21 per visit, a collective $2.2 million in new spending in the area.
In late 2012, the Trust for Public Land secured a $467,000 grant from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to put towards the study. Since then, the TPL and the Friends of the Queensway held community meetings for public input. The study competes with supporters of a different plan to restore transit service on the tracks, formerly the Long Island Railroad Rockaway Beach line. Neither proposal has secured support from the mayor's office.
But a slew of public officials, businesspeople and heads of nonprofits offered support for the Queensway today. Congresswoman Grace Meng said the park "has the potential to be the new gem of open space in the borough."
· All Queensway coverage [Curbed]