BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Friends of QueensWay, elected officials and the Trust for Public Land have announced that they have officially raised the $1 million they needed in order to begin the design process for Phase one of the QueensWay.
“I am excited to see that we are now ready to start the design phase of the first part of the QueensWay project,” Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said in a press release. “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.”
Of the $1 million raised, $444,000 was granted by the State Office of Parks, Reaction and Historic Preservation and Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council; $250,000 was from Hevesi; $250,000 was from Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and the remainder of the balance came from private donors.
“As an early funder and supporter of the Queens-Way, 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.”
Phase one is a half mile long stretch from Metropolitan Avenue to Union Turnpike and will provide new recreational and educational opportunities, such as pedestrian and bike access to Forest Park, outdoor classrooms for the Metropolitan Educational Campus, and enhanced facilities for the Glendale Little League, to families and children.
This phase will include a bike, jogging and walking path, upgrades for the facilities of local little leagues, schools, community and cultural amenities and improvement to the quality of life.
Marc Matsil, Director of the Trust for Public land, told the Queens Tribune that the QueensWay will be surrounded by some of the deadliest roads in Queens, in which he said are known as the ‘boulevards of death’.
“Almost 100,000 people live within a 10-minute walk of the QueensWay and every one of them will benefit when it is built,” Matsil said. “It will also help to reduce automobile-pedestrian fatalities by getting kids out of traffic, while contributing to the local economy.”
Similar to the QueensWay project, the Trust for Public Land recently opened the 606, a rails-to-rails greenway in Chicago that transformed their neighborhoods and according to Matsil, has become “an amazing resource of the city of Chicago.”
One of QueensWay’s goals is to keep kids out of danger by getting them out of the street. The project would ultimately make it possible for people to bike from Jamaica Bay to Flushing Bay out-of-traffic.
According to Matsil, Phase 1 is projected to take up to two years to be completed.
“This is a monumental step forward for the QueensWay,” said Travis Terry, member of the Steering Committee of the Friends of the QueensWay.
When, and if, the overall project is completed, it will transform a 60-year old abandoned rail line in Central Queens into a new 3.5 mile, 47 acre family friendly park.
Over the next few weeks, Queens-Way will be announcing ways for the community to pitch ideas and contribute to the process.
“The start of the design process brings the QueensWay one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens/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.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org