In this seemingly never-ending run-up to the September primaries, candidates for various city offices have been gathering on a near-daily basis for forums, debates and all sorts of public appearances. Yesterday, the Queens borough president hopefuls convened for a Town Hall in Flushing, and the topic of the QueensWay/Rockaway Beach Branch line came up. As Lisa Colangelo of the Daily News reports, only a long-shot candidate voice support for the park.
According to Colangelo, Everly Brown told the audience that he supports the greenspace because “it’s important to create parks.” The two leading candidates — Peter Vallone, Jr., whose dad helped kill a subway to La Guardia, and Melinda Katz — hedged. Vallone said that rail is his “first priority” due to the lack of transit options in the Rockaways and southern parts of Queens while Katz declined to take a position one way or another until the feasibility study is released. (The GOP candidate, running unopposed, echoed Katz’s views.)
Ultimately, in the debate over the future of the Rockaway Beach Branch right of the way and the QueensWay, the borough president has some say. Because of the role the BP’s offices play in the city’s land use review policy, the next Queens borough president can influence the push to either reactivate rail or turn the ROW into a park. That Vallone supports rail is comforting for reactivation proponents as he is the slight frontrunner, but these are just chess pieces moving into place.