Advocacy groups like the Friends of the QueensWay have proposed converting the 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail tracks, spanning from the Rockaways to Rego Park, into park space, while others have suggested the revitalization of the train line, enabling quicker access to the Rockaways.
Last week, students, faculty members and staff at the Queens College Urban Studies Department announced they would join the ranks and perform an impact study of their own to determine the best use for this high-profile space.
“It is the perfect partner to help determine what is in the best interest of Queens and city residents,” suggested Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder. “While other groups are using tax dollars to hire expensive consultants and do one-sided studies, we’re utilizing local expert resources and educating our students while supporting an objective study that will enormously benefit all our hardworking Queens families.”
The additional study comes just weeks after the MTA included the restoration of the abandoned line as part of its 20-year Capital Needs Assessment.
Goldfeder, a staunch advocate for transit revitalization, joined Queens College last week to announce the school’s community impact study.
“Now that the MTA has signaled an interest in reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as an efficient and cost-effective way to significantly increase public transit for Queens residents, it’s important we do appropriate studies to determine the next steps,” he said.
Professor Leonard Rodberg, chair of the Queens College Department of Urban Studies, and Dr. Scott Larson, a professor in the department, will head the nine-month study to determine current community transportation patterns, along with the community’s attitude toward the varying impacts, costs and feasibility.
“Our department is pleased to be cooperating with Assemblyman Goldfeder in assessing the options for this valuable, unused area of Queens,” Rodberg said. “We believe our study will help everyone evaluate what is best for the people and communities of Queens.”
The Friends of the QueensWay and the Trust for Public Land are currently working with roughly $500,000 in grant ,money from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council and the city's Department of Environmental Protection for their study to assess parkland suitability.
Andrea Crawford, second vice chairwoman of Community Board 9 and member of the Friends of the QueensWay, said she too is looking forward to what the school finds in their study.
“Queens College is a very well respected institution and we’re looking forward to seeing their data,” Crawford said. “I’m sure we’ll all be able to use the data.”