2013-08-23 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Rail Study Must Be Objective
by Miriam Rosenberg

The Trust for Public Land has begun a study to determine if turning the spot that was once the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line into a park is viable. The question is, are they going to study the effects of simply building a park? Or are they going to include the effects of having another means of transportation into the city?

We can only hope that both are part of the study since it has big implications for Rockaway. Restarting the old line would take valuable travel time off locals’ commutes into the city. The question is – will it be an objective study?

In an email to The Wave on Tuesday Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said about the study, “We hope it will include a transportation option.”

And that may be the problem. The Trust for Public Land is not concerned with Rockaway. They are helping those on the mainland who prefer a park or Queensway over the old rail area. Recently the firm hired to do a study of the feasibility of turning the area into a park was introduced to the public by the Trust For Public Land.

The New York State Director for Trust for Public Land, Marc Matsil, has said the new park – Queensway – would give residents safe walking and biking paths. In addition it would provide a new “access” to Forest Park. What about an additional way for commuters to get into the city? Opportunities to do something about the transportation problems in this city and, in this case Rockaway, do not come along often.

The study should be a dual one – exploring the feasibility of restoring the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line and building the Queensway. Especially since taxpayer dollars are being used. Last year the state kicked in $467,000 from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Governor’s office to study the area’s use. Reportedly the city has put in $140,000 toward a study. According to the New York Times “the Trust and others have brought the total so far to about $1 million.” In the end, those who are for the reactivation of the railroad can only hope that Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder is right.

“In the interest of truly benefiting every Queens resident, the Rockaway Beach Rail Line should be used for its original purpose. I am confident that any objective study regarding the best use for the abandoned rail line will conclude that a transportation option is the only real choice.”

The Rockaway Youth Task Force, in conjunction with GrowNYC, has been running the successful Rockaway Beach Youthmarket every Saturday since July 13. It will close in just one week, on August 31, unless funding can be found to keep it open until the season ends in November. To make a tax deductible donation to help keep the market going go to nycharities.org/donate/c_ donate.asp?Charity Code=3717. Use the additional options at the bottom of the page to designate your donation to the Youthmarket.

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