The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Friends of the QueensWay this week finished the schematic design for the first half-mile of the proposed 3.5-mile linear park and trail, and released the new plans and images which depict and locate key public amenities
Phase I, which is next to the neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Glendale, could be built and open to the public by 2020 as a city park, according to the study.
Phase I, or “the Metropolitan Hub,” would improve access to Forest Park and run from Metropolitan Avenue south to Union Turnpike, where an existing path provides pedestrian and bike access to the park.
According to the proposal released this week, the first phase would also provide learning gardens and outdoor classrooms for the 2,000 students in the three schools comprising the Metropolitan Education Campus.
“Today’s announcement is a tremendous step forward for the QueensWay,” said Andy Stone, TPL's New York City director. “The completion of a compelling design for the first phase will bring us that much closer to making the QueensWay a reality for hundreds of thousands of people who live within a 10-minute walk.”
Construction-ready working drawings will be produced over the next year, which will provide the community with additional details on new features of the proposed park.
In addition, the QueensWay project will be retaining a safety and security consultant to make recommendations for design and operations of the QueensWay, to maximize the safety of park users and adjacent homes and businesses.
“For decades, our own communities and neighbors have endured the unique hardships of living near an abandoned, unsafe and unnatural structure,” said Travis Terry, a member of the Friends of the QueensWay Steering Committee. “With these recent developments, we are one step closer to realizing the full potential of the QueensWay project and seeing real improvement to our daily lives.”
So far, TPL and Friends of the QueensWay have combined over $2 million in private funds and New York state grants to move the QueensWay project forward.
“It was a pleasure to have been able to provide funding for this stage of the QueensWay project, and am pleased with the progress that has been made to realize this tremendous community amenity,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi of Forest Hills. “The QueensWay will not only improve quality of life for so many Central Queens residents, but will make great strides in helping to impact our local economy.”
But the QueensWay is far from a done deal. There is significant opposition to the proposal from homeowners who live along the abandoned railway, mostly as it pertains to public safety.
There is also local support for reactivating the old Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR as another mass transit option for residents of south Queens, connecting it with existing subway lines.
With the exception of a few parcels of land, almost the entire right-of-way of the former line is owned by the city.