Goldfeder Wants LIRR Line Restored
By Luis Gronda
|A rendering of the proposed revived Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road.
With the QueensWay project receiving money for a feasibility study, one elected official is looking to get money for the alternative plan of the 3.5 mile stretch of vacant land.
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.
News came out last week that the Governor’s office had awarded $467,000 to The Trust for Public Land, a non profit organization based in San Francisco that helps fund green space projects, for a feasibility study to determine how much it would cost to built the QueensWay, an elevated bike and pedestrian trail that would run from Ozone Park to Rego Park similar to that of The High Line in Manhattan.
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.
“The restoration of transportation on that line is good for the entire borough,” the Assemblyman said. “It is good for creating short term jobs and it’s good for spurring our economy.”
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.
The debate of what to do with the abandoned land has raged on since the issue came into the limelight last year with many people taking sides on what they think is best for Queens.
Residents living in the Rockaways and southern Queens neighborhoods like Howard Beach and Ozone Park mostly support restoring the LIRR line, which would run from Far Rockaway to Rego Park and include connections to other trains and buses, because it would boost public transit for those neighborhoods and potentially take cars off of major streets like Cross Bay Boulevard.
People living in areas to the north like Forest Hills and Rego Park generally support the QueensWay because it would increase the amount of parkland in the borough and provide a quieter alternative to the locomotives. Residents of those neighborhoods say that the return of the train line would bring unwanted noise from the trains zipping by houses that live near the currently vacant land.
But the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) has made it known that it is against both proposals.
Ed Wendell, WRBA’s president, said that residents are uninspired by both plans and the reason why they haven’t supported either idea is because they feel that both will have negative effects on the area of Woodhaven that the land runs through the neighborhood, which is 98th Street. He said that both plans would affect quality of life and property values of homes in the area.
Their neutral stance has caused some arguments between Goldfeder and the WRBA.
The Assemblyman said that he is not against the QueensWay, but he is against people and organizations who want to do nothing with the land instead of figuring out a way to create something that would benefit Queens, calling it “an embarrassment to who we are as leaders.”
Wendell’s response to that is their stance is what they feel is best for Woodhaven.
“Our first priority will be to the residents of this community,” he said.
As for the meeting, Goldfeder said that it’s important to discuss all options of what to do with the land before a decision is made.
Phone calls to the Governor’s office regarding the meeting were not returned as of press time.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.