Half-mile of abandoned track in Glendale & Forest Hills may be first seeds of ‘QueensWay’ park
As the debate rages on about what to do with the unused Rockaway Beach Branch Line of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), The Trust for Public Land is focusing its efforts on turning the 3.5-mile stretch of railway into a beautiful park ranging from Rego Park to Ozone Park, called the QueensWay.
Specifically, the organization is eyeing a half-mile section of the linear park straddling the Glendale/Forest Hills border to plant the park’s first foothold. That section is named the “Metropolitan Hub” and runs along the tracks from Metropolitan Avenue down to Union Turnpike.
Recently, the Friends of the QueensWay joined forces with The Trust for Public Land, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving open space and creating parks for people in and around cities.
“Our essential goal is to have every resident of a city in the U.S. have a park, playground, trail or greenway within a 10-minute walk from home, and we are working toward that goal,” said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development at The Trust for Public Land.
According to Benepe, New York City ranks seventh on the Parks Score — an assessment of the country’s 100 largest cities as to how well they provide parks to their residents — with 97 percent of New Yorkers living within a 10-minute walk to a park, playground, trail or greenway.
“New York does very well, but there are still pockets of the city where they have very little park access,” Benepe added. “One of those pockets is down in Ozone Park where there are very few parks and we’re working to address that. The QueensWay would provide a major antidote to the park desert, which is particularly bad in Ozone Park. Ozone Park, despite its name having ‘Park’ in it, has almost no parks.”
The QueensWay Vision
After holding five public meetings, 30 workshops and meetings with community groups, and even more discussions with community stakeholders, The Trust for Public Land has created a vision of what the QueensWay could be.
The QueensWay would be a new type of neighborhood park that would safely link to and enhance features of Queens’ third largest park, Forest Park. It would allow for a showcase of Queens’ diversity by hosting cultural events, and provide new opportunities for local businesses. The QueensWay would help connect children with nature by creating new play spaces, and create open space for neighborhoods that do not have enough park space, all while providing travelers with safe walking and biking routes to schools, stores and work.