Activate the Queensway
The next mayor should redevelop the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a cultural greenway for Eastern Queens. Partially elevated and partially subsurface, the greenway would extend 3.5 miles from Rego Park to Ozone Park and would serve 140,000 residents within a ten-minute walking radius and an additional 250,000 people within a mile.
Drawing on the success of the High Line, this greenway could transform an eyesore into a rich resource for the community. The programming opportunities are incredible: walking, jogging, cycling, public art installations, multi-ethnic food festivals, concerts, teaching gardens, lectures and yoga, among many others.
Supporters have created “Friends of the QueensWay” and enlisted the Trust for Public Land to study its feasibility. The challenge is raising the money to build it. It is in Queens, not Manhattan, and it does not share the same sexiness or appeal of development as the High Line. And yet, it fits well within the goals of PlaNYC 2030 by creating a green space and cultural resource for the outer boroughs. The next administration should do everything in its power to transform this idle infrastructure into a thriving amenity.
Laurie Beckelman is a Founding Partner of Beckelman+Capalino, which provides a wide range of project management and strategic advisory services to cultural, not-for-profit and historic preservation clients.