“If you walk along the waterfront, this decades-old promenade is desperate need of revitalization,” said Queens Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Grech at a press conference in World’s Fair Marina Park last week. “Through the construction of the AirTrain LGA, Port Authority has a unique opportunity to do just that.”
Grech was joined by representatives of the NY Building Congress, Association for a Better NY (ABNY), and General Contractors Association of NY (GCA), in presenting an open letter to the Port Authority on behalf of the coalition A Better Way to LGA, a collaboration of transportation advocates, economic development groups and civic stakeholders.
“We believe strongly that with careful analysis, New York can marry this crucial transit project to improving areas of Queens that need an infusion of investment,” the letter reads.
Coalition members pointed to rotting benches, tattered fencing and distorted walkways as some of the promenade’s most critical deficiencies. It also recommended improvements to make the marina’s pier more storm-resilient.
Based on public outreach efforts, the Port Authority deviated the AirTrain’s proposed route away from the median of the Grand Central Parkway earlier this year. In order to create less disruption to homes along parallel Ditmars Boulevard, the new plan is to run the line through the park instead.
“What’s great about this project is that it’s tied to vital infrastructure,” said ABNY’s deputy director Laura Colacurcio. “we could really make this a destination for people to come to and enjoy, and really expand the appeal of the borough.”
A Better Way to LGA argues the AirTrain would contribute to the economic and environmental vitality of Queens.
The coalition’s support for the project cites a reduction in traffic, the creation of jobs during and after construction, and a more desirable travel experience for residents, tourists and business professionals traveling through LaGuardia.
Chris Boylan, director of Governmental and Strategic Partnerships at GCA, echoed sentiments that allocating funds to restore the promenade would add another level of benefits from the AirTrain project.
“Certainly we are interested in the AirTrain project in terms of the jobs it creates,” Boylan said. “But our members and their employees are also residents of the region. They raise their families here, they use the parks, and they use the transportation system.”