No More Highline In Queens
There is no one more passionate about parks and the positive impact they can have on a community than I. But I was extremely disappointed that the Trust for Public Land was supporting a project that has such disregard for other Queens neighborhoods such as the Rockaways. The QueensWay project does little to support “the people” as much as it does parks.
I spend countless hours each week advocating for the Rockaways and it requires me to travel to both Queens Borough Hall and City Hall; easily four hours each day. During these trips I speak with many people traveling the subway with me and it has helped me to know the struggles of so many who make this journey on a daily basis.
This includes faculty from some of Rockaways public schools. They have limited pools of applicants since most are not willing to make this trek. And the students themselves who may leave the peninsula to find better educational opportunities. For their efforts they are left with few hours to play, run or take part in their own community because of their sacrifice to travel four hours a day in search of a better education.
I was really struck by the divisiveness of the meeting in Kew Gardens. I was surprised that so many of the local residents in Kew Gardens seemed so driven to create a “highline” of their own while discounting a track that could be reinstated and bring economic development to ALL of Queens. Also there is little to no comparison that can be made to the Manhattan highline as they were not cutting off a rail line/ transportation to another community in their own borough but rather resurrecting a rail line no longer used to transport goods to the port and docks of Lower Manhattan.
Each year Rockaway Waterfront Alliance leads afterschool and summer programs with over 3,000 youth. And during these times we are unable to bring the students to institutions and museums in Queens due to the lack of access to public transit. It is not surprising that Queens receives only 1 percent of the cultural affairs budget in NYC. Due to poor attendance at many Queens institutions they cannot compete with the other boroughs for funding. And this attendance can be directly related to the lack of transportation access for the public to get to these places.
By continuing to cut off ties to other communities in Queens (namely Rockaway) we are cutting off our economic stability on a national level. It is a loselose for Queens to have the Queens- Way project. But a win-win for all of NYC to move forward on reinstating the Rockaway line of the LIRR. We need more options for transit to and from work, school and play (the beach/ museums). Residents of NYC should think about the bigger picture and the impact this rail could have by serving thousands of people with access to public transit to the entire borough of Queens.