Queens pols, QueensWay advocates square off over rail lineBy
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to promote Genting’s plans for Ozone Park as a potential “destination complex,” politicians and park advocates are squaring off over the unused Rockaway Breach Branch of the LIRR. On the one side are neighborhood activists who want to turn the rail ROW into a park, and on the other are Queens politicians who know that increased transit options — and not just a super-express A train — are keys to any convention center/casino complex’s success.
Recently, two Assembly representatives from Queens, Phil Goldfeder and Michael Miller, announced their support for a rehabilitation and reactivation of the Rockaway Breach Branch line. The two envision this routing as a faster way for people from Ozone Park and the Rockaways to reach Manhattan. With the convention center, Goldfeder said, “the commute for people here is only going to go from bad to worse. You can’t talk about a convention center without talking about transportation.”
Activists for the so-called QueensWay, a rails-to-trails project that would forever sacrifice the rail option for the Rockaway Beach ROW, had a different take, and it is probably the group’s most out-there statement yet. “The building of a new rail line in this economy and the destruction it would cause into adjacent neighborhoods including Forest Park is not feasible,” Andrea Crawford of Friends of QueensWay said. Reactivating an old rail line certainly is feasible, and it would not cause destruction of any neighborhoods. Ultimately, the stumbling blocks will not be quasi-NIMBYism from QueensWay supporters but Genting’s reluctance to spend too much money and a lack of any other funding source.