A few weeks ago, I explored an on-again, off-again movement in Queens to convert parts of the unused Rockaway Beach Branch line into a park. At the time, I was skeptical of the move because once these rail rights-of-way are converted to trails, they are never restored to their transportation functionality. Doing the same in Queens would forever deprive the area of a potential rail access point.
Now, we hear that activists in Queens are pushing forward with the newly-named QueensWay project. As The Daily News reports, those who are angling for a park have convinced the Trust for Public Land to seek out private funding for a feasibility study. Once conducted, this study will present the potential costs of the problem and the security, safety and engineering work that would have to be done along the 3.5-mile railroad ROW in advance of opening a park. “I think people see this as opportunity to take abandoned land and do something great with it,” Andrea Crawford, head of Queens’ CB9 and a member of the Friends of QueenWay committee, said. “It preserves green space and it opens up green space.”
I’m still skeptical of this effort. As I’ve said, the High Line works because it’s in a pedestrian-heavy neighborhood that already was a major tourist attraction. The QueensWay plans do not enjoy similar positioning in the city, and I would be far more intrigued by a feasibility study that assesses the challenges facing anyone who wishes to reactivate the rail line instead. For now, though, the project has the public’s attention, and I’ll keep an eye on it. You can too by following TheQueensWay on Twitter.