Wanting but not wanting improvements in QueensBy
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.