BY LUIS GRONDA
As a debate continues on the subject of what to do with an abandoned rail line – build the QueensWay or reactivate an old Long Island Rail Road line – residents of one Woodhaven neighborhood are taking the status quo position on the issue.
People who live in a quiet residential neighborhood on 98th Street between Jamaica Avenue and Park Lane South say that bringing either project to Queens would be a disturbance to their neighborhood, and they have started a group to vocalize their opinion.
The group, which is called, No Way QueensWay, is not only against bringing the proposed bike path to Queens but is also opposed to reviving the train line that used to run along the now-dormant stretch of land.
Neil Giannelli and his partner Sonia Lugo are the co-creators of the group and the vacant tracks run just feet from the backyard of their home, which they have lived in since 2001. They said that bringing either project to Queens brings up many concerns about how it would affect their neighborhood, including crime, noise and pollution.
“My kids play here, they bring friends to play here and the privacy of my spring and summer days are down the drain,” Lugo said.
Giannelli said that, as a resident of 98th Street, they want to make sure that their voices are heard before any deal is made to go forward with either project.
“We don’t have money for schools or firehouses, but we have $467,000 to conduct this study,” he said, referring to the money The Trust for Public Land received to do a feasibility study for the Queensway. “This seemed to me to be one of those done deals that New York State has become so famous for.”
The group already has the support of some of the other residents on their block. Several residents said they would be concerned about their privacy if one of the projects were to be built. They made themselves publicly known for the first time at last week’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association meeting to garner more support for their movement. The meeting served as the perfect platform for the group as the WRBA has also come out against both projects.
Rose Spahn, a 24-year resident of 98th Street, said that the elevated pedestrian path would be too close to her house for comfort.
“I like the privacy, that’s why we bought this house,” she said. “They would be right in our backyards. When they’re on the hill, they can look right into our houses.”
Another 98th Street resident, Sugi Widjaja, said that there is already sufficient parkland for people in the neighborhood to use and more is not needed.
“We already have a park big enough to use for our neighbors,” Widjaja said, referring to Forest Park, which is within walking distance.
At Saturday’s meeting, the civic association took a straw poll of the things residents of Woodhaven are most concerned about as 2013 started. Out of 460 votes, the QueensWay/ Rail Line category drew the third most votes, receiving 36 in total. The issues that finished ahead of that were illegal conversions and noise.
Giannelli said that they next hope to speak with Community Board 9 about their concerns for both projects. CB 9 has come out in support of the QueensWay. They also intend on holding a public meeting in the near future to discuss the issue.
For information on the group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nowayqueensway.org.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at email@example.com.