It’s been relatively quiet on the QueensWay front for a few years now, but plans to bring a High Line-style park to the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line, stretching from Rego Park to Ozone Park, is gaining momentum again.
On Wednesday, the groups spearheading the project, The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay, unveiled new renderings for the first half-mile stretch of what is eventually proposed to be a three-and-a-half-mile park.
This particular section, which will be located next to Forest Hills and Glendale will be known as the “Metropolitan Hub,” and will stretch from Metropolitan Avenue to Union Turnpike. This section will feature pedestrian and bike paths, gardens, and outdoor classrooms for over 2,000 students from three nearby schools.
“Today’s announcement is a tremendous step forward for the QueensWay, which would not have been possible without our partners in government and the community, who enthusiastically provided ideas for safe routes for biking and walking, outdoor classroom space, and enhancements to baseball fields,” Andy Stone, the NYC director of the Trust for Public Land, said in a statement.
The design of this particular section was led by DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture (WXY is collaborating with them on the overall design of the park). The firm has spent the past few years conducting community workshops and site analysis to move forward with the plan. Neighbors will be presented with construction drawings in the coming months in the hopes of moving this forward.
What’s standing in this park’s way, however, is a potential revival of the train tracks on which it’s proposed. The Long Island Railroad’s Rockaway Beach Rail Line has been abandoned, and has sat in disrepair for decades now. However many local residents have argued that reviving the rail line will significantly shorten their commute.
The QueensWay project overall has elicited a mixed response from locals, with some arguing for more park space, others wanting the rail line reactivated, and others still who are hoping for a combination of both.
An op-ed published in Crain’s earlier this year continued to argue against the park in favor of the rail line being restored. In April last year, the MTA decided to look at this possibility, and the results from that feasibility study are expected to be released in June.
But supporters of the QueensWay aren’t backing down. They’ve raised $2 million in private funds and New York State grants—even though it hasn’t received the kind of financial backing that the High Line did. The QueensWay in contrast is almost three times larger than the High Line, and will even have space for ball fields over the course of the park.
“For decades, our own communities and neighbors have endured the unique hardships of living near an abandoned, unsafe and unnatural structure,” Travis Terry, a member of the Friends of the QueensWay Steering Committee, said in a statement. “With these recent developments, we are one step closer to realizing the full potential of the QueensWay project and seeing real improvement to our daily lives.”
- Abandoned Rockaway Rail Line Waits for High Line Moment [Curbed]
- Queensway Organizers Scramble to Break Ground Before Alternative Uses Considered for Site [Untapped Cities]
- MTA To Conduct Feasibility Study Of Rockaway Rail Line [QT]
- Rockaway Branch Would Cut Commuting Time for Thousands of Residents: Study [DNAInfo]
- Park-rich Queens needs trains more than green space [Crain’s]