Wanting but not wanting improvements in Queens


Remember Karen Koslowitz, the City Council representative from Queens? A few weeks ago, she railed against the Rockaway Beach Branch line and the various plans to reactivate it. She was awfully vehement in her defense as well.

“It will affect the neighborhood in an extremely negative way,” she said. “The train will burden residents who have built their homes close to those tracks. We cannot allow another train to come through our neighborhood. It’s an intrusion on private property.”

As we know, the Rockaway Beach Branch line came up in relation to the now-dead plan to build a casino in Ozone Park. As one of the many proposed transportation improvements that would benefit both the casino and the Rockaways, rail advocates had pushed an unlikely plan to restore service to this idle right of way, and Koslowitz did not like it.

But now that the casino is dead, and with it, a chance to redevelop part of Queens and lots of jobs, what does Koslowitz think? “Queens is being shafted all the time,” she said earlier this week to The Times. “Other boroughs are getting things. They are promised and it happens.”

Maybe other boroughs get things because they want things. While the Second Ave. Subway has been disruptive to the East Side, most people recognize the need for it. Meanwhile, Manhattan has embraced its various projects, and although the battle has been a raucous one, Brooklyn too will soon have its own infrastructure upgrades and fair share of new projects. In Queens, even redevelopment a bunch of chop shops in the shadows of Citi Field has been a battle.

Meanwhile, Queens advocates say they are going to keep fighting. But as Dana Rubinstein, just as some Queens politicians such as Assembly rep Phillip Goldfeder were lining up behind the project, the rug was yanked from underneath the dormant rail line. The Rockaway Beach Branch line will lie fallow, and rails-to-trails advocates will try once again to make sure that we forever lose the transit option.

Eventually, if New Yorkers want something — infrastructure, transportation improvements — they will have to be reflective about it, and they will have to question their political choices. We cannot have politicians who want all of the benefits of a new project without giving up something. In this case, the ask wasn’t even particularly onerous, but representatives such as Koslowitz couldn’t even accept that. Living in a city — a thriving urban area — is about trade-offs, and transportation improvements benefit everyone even if a handful of people may have to live with a train running in the distance.

Categories : Queens

19 Responses to “Wanting but not wanting improvements in Queens”

  1. Bolwerk says:

    What are the trade-offs with Rockaway for the locals? I’ll go through what I can think of off the top of my head:

    – Noise? Entirely avoidable with modern equipment. White noise at worst, quieter than living near a typical street.

    – Pollution? Local impact: zero or negative (as in, reduces emissions, at least on average per person).

    – Safety? No direct implications if you aren’t playing in the tracks.

    – Property values? They’d go up, and usually people like that.

    – New development? Most implications are optional, and require zoning changes.

    – Costs? Shared with ~8M other people, and the money will probably be spent somewhere anyway.

    – Private residents encroaching on the ROW? Okay, this at least affects somebody, though I can’t see why they should have a right to continue encroaching. And it will affect only a limited number of people.

    • SEAN says:

      Karen’s atitude exemplifies why other world cities are far ahead of NYC in so many ways. Stop with the god dam wining!

      • Bolwerk says:

        Maybe if the EIS demonstrates that blacks would use the line only in proportion to their presence in the neighborhood, or less, Karen can be swayed.

  2. Phantom says:

    The plan solves a problem that really doesn’t exist.

    These areas are already crossed by multiple high capacity train lines that go straight into Manhattan.

    • Marc Shepherd says:

      Have you actually looked at a map? Obviously not.

    • Andrew says:

      I wouldn’t go quite that far. Reactivation of the line would be of some use, primarily for north-south travel in Queens.

      But that’s not enough to warrant reactivating it, since there is no shortage of useful transit improvements in the region, and funding, as we all know, is tight. Why should this one, as opposed to another, be funded?

      As I pointed out in another post, it’s hard to evaluate a proposal without having any sense of what problem it is intended to solve.

      It almost seems like many advocates have reversed the problem and the solution. The problem, to them, is that the line sits dormant, and the solution is to build a convention center. But a convention center would function just fine within the existing transit network, and Genting made it quite clear months ago that they were not going to pay for reactivation of any dormant lines.

      Let’s turn it around. What is the problem that we’re trying to solve? Once we’ve identified a problem, we can evaluate potential solutions (perhaps including a reactivation of an old rail line).

      • Bolwerk says:

        I agree with you, but my mindset toward it is getting piecemeal improvements that could be of more use later can really be a good thing. What could the Rockaway Line do? Well, besides opening up proper transit to a part of Queens that long ago lost it, if it ever had it, and making the first halfway decent outer borough beltway service, it gives perhaps a million additional people good transit access to a beach that just happens to be in a part of the city that could be a good tourist spot – and could use the economic boost. And, perhaps a danger to it is that it could crowd Queens Boulevard more, even with only a transfer.

        Maybe if a future generation gets it shit together, it could be the direction a Queens-Manhattan super-express goes to the airport. Or it could continue further north into Queens. Or a bit of both.

    • al says:

      Those lines either don’t stop there or are at crush capacity during peak hrs.

      • Andrew says:

        Only if “crush capacity” means “carrying more than 70% or so of what NYCT considers the guideline capacity during rush hours.”

        And if the issue is serving a casino and convention center, how many gamblers and conventioneers travel in the peak direction during rush hours? (That is, toward the casino at 5 PM and away from the casino at 8 AM.)

    • John says:

      Try traveling from South Ozone Park to College Point using public transit. I dare you.

      • Andrew says:

        The few people who want to take transit from South Ozone Park to College Point can get there by bus with one transfer (e.g., Q9 to Q25).

        (How would this train line even help them? It would get them to Rego Park, and then what? There are no buses from Rego Park to College Point.)

      • Alon Levy says:

        Wouldn’t you want to extend the subway to College Point for that?

  3. John-2 says:

    Koslowitz either believes that the Infrastructure Fairy magically makes multi-billion dollar rail projects appear without any intervening disturbance to the area its designed to serve, or thinks Colonial-era settlers who founded the first villages in Queens were transversing land which already had a four-track IND subway in place, left there by the retreat of the glaciers, and just waiting to be discovered and used.

    She and others like her want the benefits, but they somehow believe they can get them with zero inconvenience to their neighborhoods, with the more litigious ones filing suits that end up assuring that nothing gets built. Even though the Rockaway Branch revival has minuscule odds of happening, it would still be fun to see Cuomo come up with an alternative partner for the Ozone Park convention center/racino if for no other reason than to keep exposing the hypocrisy of people like Koslowitz

  4. Al D says:

    We also need a transit agency that will lead and advocate to expand transit. That is a big missing piece of our puzzle. They are absent and silent in most any discussion. They should be framing argument and debate with their very own data. Organize, rally and lobby lawmaker support, union backing, local leaders.

    Instead we have nothing.

  5. Jerrold says:

    The NIMBY hypocrites usually manage to f— up the hopes of getting anything new built in their community.

  6. Koslowitz’s objections are the same that killed the “Montauk/Archer” option for the 63rd Street subway.

    To wit: white people in ‘isolated’ neighborhoods like Glendale and Middle Village, were afraid that blacks were going to ride the trains and rape/pillage, steal their cattle.

  7. Nathan says:

    To be fair to Karen Koslowitz, it is not explicit in the Times article that she is referring to transit or even transportation at all. Nevertheless, it would be a stretch to say that an enormous casino or whatever “things” she wants in Queens would not also “affect the neighborhood in an extremely negative way”

  8. Brian Power says:

    I think this line should be activated due to the high travel times from rockaway to manhattan.Karen Koslowitz more likely doesnt ride the A train everyday to midtown manhattan but takes the LIRR instead.This is just an example of the 1% trying to hold down the other 99%.As for people along the right of way,if you dont like it,move.For years people have lived near subway tracks and have to deal with the noise of the trains,and also consider the fact that now they can silence a train by more then 50%.Transfers would be made at Jamaica Avenue with the J,Z lines so people from south jamaica can transfer and wont have to travel through Brooklyn.Its connection to the Queens Blvd line would be easy.There is a already a vestige for a connection to this line already built into the walls of the tunnel just east of the 63 Road station.We need more subways in new york,period.Inconvienance the few to serve the many.

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