Despite The Times’ best efforts at minimizing the rail option, the Rockaway Beach Branch may yet have a champion in a position of some power. A few weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office awarded a $500,000 grant to the group championing the QueensWay rails-to-trails proposal, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder of Ozone Park has called upon the governor to give money to a feasibility study for rail as well.
“The restoration of transportation on that line is good for the entire borough,” Goldfeder said to The Queens Tribute this week. “It is good for creating short term jobs and it’s good for spurring our economy.”
The Tribune’s Luis Gronda had a bit more in an article replete with interesting tidbits:
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) announced at last week’s Community Board 10 meeting, which covers Howard Beach, Lindenwood South Ozone Park, Tudor Village and parts of Ozone Park and Richmond Hill, that he would be meeting with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office sometime this week to discuss getting money to do a feasibility study to revive the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train line that used to run in southern and central Queens…
Goldfeder said at the meeting that he will continue to push forward with the idea of revitalizing the LIRR because people living in the Rockaways and Southern Queens desperately need better transportation options than the ones that are currently available and because it would benefit all of Queens.
Goldfeder said that while he has met with the governor’s office before regarding reviving the LIRR line and improving public transportation options in general, this latest meeting is in response to the QueensWay getting the grant money for the study. “I wanted to make sure that they were aware of the many different options and desires for that land,” he said.
According to The Tribune, residents in southeast Queens are more in favor of a rail reactivation than those further north up the unused right-of-way. Such a rail line would provide better connections to subway lines and could ease congestion on Cross Bay Boulevard. But their neighbors to the north have a different take on things as they worry that a rail reactivation would impact the Forest Hills and Rego Park houses unwisely built on top of a rail line.
Meanwhile, Goldfeder and the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association are engaged an interesting war over ideas as well. The right-of-way runs along the eastern edge of Woodhaven, and residents there feel both the QueensWay and the Rockaway Beach Branch reactivation would have a negative impact on property value and quality of life in the area. So not only is this response the Grand Poobah of NIMBYism, but it’s blatantly wrong as well. Although it pains me to admit it, an active park would have a positive impact on property values and so too would the rail line. Goldfeder has said before that doing nothing that benefits no one is not an alluring option.
And so a great land use and transportation debate takes shape in Queens. On the one hand are park advocates, on the other are rail advocates and on the third are people who just want to be left alone. The NIMBYs might actually win because moving forward on either a park or a rail line may face too many political and economic obstacles right now. Goldfeder, however, deserves the support, and if he can become a leading voice for rail reactivation, such a cause could have an ally to rally around in Albany.