Press Release: Launch of Design Process for Phase 1 of the QueensWay
May 26th, 2016
Elected Officials, Friends of the QueensWay and The Trust for Public Land announce Launch of Design Process for Phase 1 of the QueensWay and call on city to fund this historic, family-friendly park for Queens
By The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay – New York – 05/26/2016
The design process for the first half-mile of the proposed QueensWay Park will begin this summer, supporters announced today reflecting the significant progress the project has made over the last year. Over $1 million in funds from public and private sources has been raised. This includes a $444,000 grant from the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council; $250,000 from Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, $250,000 from Council Member Karen Koslowitz; as well as other private donations.
“I am excited to see that we are now ready to start the design phase of the first part of the QueensWay project. I am proud to have helped fund this phase, and I encourage the construction of phase 1 after the design is done. The Queensway Plan will benefit our local economy, allow an additional green space in our urban landscape, and will literally link local communities together through the 3.5 miles of property that this project will connect. I look forward to continuing to work with the Friends of QueensWay and my colleagues in government to make this plan a reality.” – said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (A.D.-28).
“The start of the design process brings the QueensWay one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Congressmember Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “This announcement is an exciting development for a unique park that will present great health and environmental benefits for our borough and I’m thrilled to see the project moving forward.”
“It’s time to embrace a new era of big thinking when it comes to our parks and green spaces–and the QueensWay does just that. This project would bring an abandoned rail line back to life, expand recreational opportunities, and draw new customers and visitors to local shops and businesses. And as New York City continues to grow, the QueensWay would add 47 new acres of parkland that would help address our increasing need for green space. I’m proud to join a broad and diverse coalition, calling on the city to support the design and construction of this visionary project,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee.
The QueensWay is an exciting project because it would not only serve as a unique park, but it would also unlock the economic potential of the long-abandoned rail line and create new opportunities for local businesses and the entire community,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick, Chair of the Economic Development Committee.
When completed, the QueensWay (which has been endorsed by the NY Times) will transform an over 60-year old abandoned rail line in Central Queens into a new 3.5 mile, 47 acre family and age-friendly park. It will include a bike, jogging and walking path, upgrades for the facilities of local little leagues, schools, community and cultural amenities and a significant improvement to the environment and quality of life of those living in Central and Southern Queens. The QueensWay will also attract new customers to existing businesses along its route thus boosting the local economy.
Phase 1 will focus on a central half-mile section of the QueensWay, from Metropolitan Avenue to Union Turnpike. This section, known as the Metropolitan Hub, will enhance pedestrian and bike access to Forest Park, and will include outdoor classrooms for more than 2,000 students in the adjacent Metropolitan Educational Campus. It will also provide enhanced facilities and new access to the Ridgewood/Glendale Little League.
The design process will be led by Susannah Drake at DLANDstudio Architecture & Landscape Architecture which has a tremendous history of success in sustainable design and effectively incorporating input from the local community into her projects. This design process will involve experts in engineering and environmental sciences, and will provide many opportunities for the local community to engage as community input has always been a core philosophy of the project.
Many elected officials, civic and community organizations express support of this major step forward in completing the QueensWay and called on the City to allocate the funds to complete phase 1.
“This announcement adds to the growing support for this project, which will be a major benefit for people in Queens,” said Marc Matsil, New York Director of The Trust for Public Land, which is overseeing the plans. “Almost 100,000 people live within a 10-minute walk of the QueensWay and every one of them will benefit when it is built. It will also help to reduce automobile-pedestrian fatalities by getting kids out of traffic, while contributing to the local economy.”
“This is a monumental step forward for the QueensWay,” said Travis Terry, Member of the Steering Committee of the Friends of the QueensWay. “Thanks to the tireless advocacy of thousands of people living near the QueensWay, we will see real progress in creating a park our community wants and needs. We are truly grateful to all of our elected officials and supporters for their commitment to making this project happen and look forward to working closely with members of our community to design this section of the park.”
“The Queensway represents an opportunity to add to our city’s green spaces, make the communities it runs through safer, and provide educational and recreational opportunities for thousands of residents and commuters in Central Queens,” said Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better New York. “We are excited to see this effort gain momentum and are proud to stand beside the Friends of the Queensway to make this park a reality.”
According to Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks: “The QueensWay will be a valuable addition to New York’s park system. It will connect hundreds of thousands of Queens residents directly to Forest Park to enjoy its lush hiking trails, recreation areas, and bike paths. In addition it will provide 47 new acres of park space to six neighborhoods, including Ozone Park which is severely lacking in parkland.”
“The QueensWay represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve the quality-of-life of Queens residents and provide a helpful boost to many of the Borough’s incredible businesses,” said Thomas J. Grech, Executive Director of Queens Chamber of Commerce. “The Queens Chamber of Commerce has been a proud supporter of the QueensWay since its inception and we are thrilled to be part of a diverse coalition advocating for its success and calling on the City to make the project a reality.”
“We’re thrilled to see momentum building for the QueensWay, which will give people biking and walking safe access to Forest Park for the first time,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The QueensWay’s 3.5 miles of off-road and separated bike and pedestrian paths will be a significant benefit to Central Queens, which currently has almost no dedicated bike lanes running north-south.”
“The Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc. is excited by the vitally-needed recreational space that the QueensWay will bring to our communities,” said Kenrick Ross, Executive Director of the Indo-Carribean Alliance, Inc. “We recognize the wide breadth of opportunities the QueensWay will provide- space for children to play, seniors to exercise and cultural and religious celebrations to take place.”
“The QueensWay project is a perfect example of how an inactive rail corridor can be transformed into a valuable community asset that improves the economic and social health of a place and the personal health of its people” said Keith Laughlin, President of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
“As an early funder and supporter of the QueensWay, the Citizens Committee for New York City is thrilled to see this project take another major step forward in becoming a reality,” said Peter Kostmayer, Chief Executive Officer of the Citizens Committee for New York City. “These types of projects are never easy but when communities organize effectively, such as in the case of the QueensWay, great things can happen to improve the quality of life in those neighborhoods and with improvements to the environment, education, transportation, security and health, the QueensWay is a win-win for all of Queens and the City of New York.”
“Projects like the High Line take a long time to plan, and the first major funding step is always critical because it shows that the dream can be fully realized,” said Robert Hammond, Executive Director of Friends of the High Line. “We know that rails-to-trails projects unlock tremendous opportunities for their areas and cities, and we hope this funding will help pave the way for the QueensWay to become a reality.”
“The QueensWay is one of the most exciting projects to come to Queens in decades,” said Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director of the Center for Urban Future. “In a borough starved for open space, the QueensWay has so much potential to improve the quality of life for families and businesses in the borough. I’m thrilled that the project’s design is moving forward.”
“The Trust for Public Land has led a great national effort to re-purpose derelict lands. They recently opened the 606, a rails-to-trails greenway in Chicago, that transformed those neighborhoods. The QueensWay will be equally impactful, and will have so many multiple benefits for the 300,000 residents that live within a mile. It will also be possible to bike from Jamaica Bay to Flushing Bay, almost entirely out-of-traffic on the QueensWay”, said Roland Lewis, CEO and President of the Municipal Waterfront Alliance.
Rob McKay, Director of the Queens Tourism Council says: “QueensWay will be a tremendous amenity for locals and yet another fantastic reason for tourists to continue flocking to the world’s most diverse borough. We are very excited about this latest advancement. To me, the collaboration between elected officials, nonprofits, community leaders, and government agencies shows how united we are behind this project.”
Bernice Katz, President of the Forest Hills Crescent Civic Association said, “We are very pleased to see progress with the QueensWay. Our neighborhood directly adjoins the old rail line, and we think the QueensWay Park would be an excellent replacement for this derelict land. Rail reactivation on this corridor is universally opposed in our area, and would be detrimental to hundreds of homeowners, and would destroy a large portion of the little league fields adjacent to our community.”
“The QueensWay vision is an opportunity to link communities in central and southern Queens via a world-class linear park,” said Ivan Mrakovcic, President of the Richmond Hill Historical Society. “It ultimately represents an opportunity to connect Flushing Meadows Park to Jamaica Bay and the Gateway National Recreation Area. Cyclists, pedestrians, birdwatchers, nature lovers and foodies will enjoy the best Queens has to offer through the varied landscapes the QueensWay has to offer.”
Larry Berkowitz, Executive Director, says “The Forest Hills Youth Athletic Association is a strong supporter of the QueensWay. Our fields, which serve 2,200 youth sports participants, lie partially on the former rail right of way, and would co-exist and be enhanced by the QueensWay. Any other proposal, such as new rail service, would displace many of our activities.”
“The Center for Active Design is thrilled to support the plan for QueensWay, which will harness the transformative power of design to support the health and well-being of Queens residents and visitors alike. The project will repurpose a desolate, blighted rail line into a unique public space supporting safe walking and biking through nature, while inviting social connections.” said Joanna Frank, Executive Director of the Center for Active Design.
“We are enthused about the prospect of the QueensWay becoming a reality,” said Wayne Sosin, President of Worksman Cycles. “Elevated Green space in our neighborhood Ozone Park would be so valuable for the citizens of the area, and potentially for local businesses as well. It would make Ozone Park a “destination” for many walkers, joggers and bicyclists who most likely would not ordinarily find themselves on the surface streets of our neighborhood. I would also think it would encourage those commercial properties that would border the QueensWay to perform property improvements, from building improvements, to landscaping”
“The QueensWay will support local businesses and the local economy. Ben’s Best has even named a sandwich after the QueensWay, and that’s no baloney!” said Jay Parker, Owner of Ben’s Best Kosher Delicatessen.
In addition to public sector support, recent funders of the QueensWay project include The Tiger Baron Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The New York Community Trust, Altman Foundation, and Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.
For more information on the QueensWay, you can:
- Visit the project web site at www.thequeensway.org.
- Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/QueensWayNYC
- Follow us on Twitter at @QueensWayNYC
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.
About the Friends of the QueensWay
The Friends of the QueensWay is an organization of Queens residents whose mission it is to transform the abandoned and blighted 3.5 miles of the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a new linear park and cultural greenway. In addition to the creation of new park space, FQW strongly believes the QueensWay will improve quality of life while generating significant economic benefits for the residents, workers, businesses and visitors to Central and Southern Queens and the City of New York as a whole. Learn more at www.thequeensway.org.