Queens Borough President discusses QueensWay feasibility
by Andrew Shilling
Jan 22, 2014 | 1826 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Borough President Melinda Katz addresses the 112th Precinct Community Council
Borough President Melinda Katz addresses the 112th Precinct Community Council
After dodging the question for much of her campaign for Queens borough president, Melinda Katz finally addressed the controversial QueensWay proposal, but waffled on taking a firm position

Borough President Katz was the guest speaker last week at the 112th Precinct Community Council meeting in Forest Hills.

After one resident spoke out against the QueensWay option for the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail line, Katz mentioned numerous pending studies that would help better understand the future of the railway.

She noted some feasibility issues with creating park space.

“As a council member, the issue that kept coming up time and time again was also how you get police up there?” Katz said. “If you’re going to have a park behind all the trees, where are you going to get the cops from and how are we going to police?”

Students and faculty at the Queens College Urban Studies Department are currently in the midst of an impact study to determine the best use for the abandoned line.

The Friends of the QueensWay and Trust For Public Land are also utilizing a combined $500,000 grant from the state and city for their own study to assess parkland suitability.

One resident at the 112th Precinct Community Council meeting, who asked to be referred to as Mrs. Santamaria, has lived in the Forest Hills community for nearly 50 years and said she hopes they demolish the abandoned tracks for the sake of nearby residents.

“I think they should just tear it down and sell it for scrap metal,” Santamaria said. “I’m sure it needs a lot of repair.”

Santamaria has fought the re-use of the tracks for decades, as she feels it would only invite more problems to her neighborhood.

“It’s going to need a lot of patrol,” she suggested. “They hang around up there and they’re not supposed to and you’re inviting people that don’t belong up there with a bicycle path.”

Philip McManus, founder of the Queens Public Transit Committee and advocate for the revitalization of the Rockaway Beach Rail line, said the borough is in desperate need of transportation.

“What should be asked is if you like overcrowded roads buses and trains?” McManus said. “I think the majority of the people realize that work and transportation go together, and everything revolves around transportation in one way or another.”

McManus added that while he does agree that the borough needs parks, a position advocated by the Friends of the QueensWay, residents in the Rockaways need reliable access to trains for their safety and for the sake of commerce.

“I like parks and we need parks, but we have to prioritize the most important thing we need in the community,” he said. “Transportation is vital to the lifeline of our society.”

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