Well, it seems that the decades-long debate regarding the remaining rightof way of the LIRR Rockaway Line has finally gained the attention of the mainstream media here in New York.
Last week, transportation reporter, Mr. Greg Mocker, of PIX 11 News decided to run a story on the ten o’clock broadcast that outlined the pros and cons of transforming the old rail line into an active, viable railroad or converting it into a large park, similar to the High Line park on Manhattan’s West Side.
Proponents of the idea of converting the right-of-way into a bike/pedestrian park cite the many successes NYC has had with similar types of parks throughout the five boroughs, especially Manhattan’s High Line.
They also mentioned that a park would add to the city’s green space and general beautification, in addition to providing a convenient cross-Queens bike and pedestrian route for NYC residents. However, I, personally, could never envision the hundreds of residents, who live and work along the right-of-way, tolerating thousands of strangers passing through their neighborhoods and backyards on a daily basis.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that all types of crime will definitely increase with the opening of such a large and expansive park in that area. Furthermore, where are we going to get the funds to maintain any credible security in a park of such grand proportions? Comparing this idea to the High Line in Manhattan is like comparing apples to oranges.
Opponents to the idea of a park state that reconstruction of the old railway line could bring untold business and residential development to southern Queens, notwithstanding a half hour ride to midtown for transportationstarved Rockaway residents. With the recent opening of the Resorts World Casino near JFK Airport, city planners can literally kill two birds with one stone by providing a logical and convenient rail connection between midtown Manhattan and the casino/ airport. In fact, for a city as large as New York, isn’t it time that we finally get a one-seat ride to and from JFK, and perhaps even LGA?!?
Let’s all hope that state and city legislators come to their proverbial senses and finally adopt a viable rail solution to end this longstanding transportation debacle.