Along an abandoned stretch of railway in Forest Hills, Travis Terry envisioned a park. His dream – open space, a bike trail, paths for pedestrians, trees and grass – is now in the early stages of coming true.
Friends of the QueensWay, a group begun by Terry that advocates for the construction of a park over three miles of deserted train tracks, has partnered with the New York State Trust for Public Land. The groups have entered the preliminary phase of planning a new park.
“I took [the New York State Trust for Public Land] on a tour and showed them all the possibility here,” said Terry. “I think they saw the tremendous opportunity.”
Terry assisted in the creation of Manhattan’s High Line Park, a similar project also built on top of vacant railway. He alleges the QueensWay initiative is something locals have had interest in for some time.
Marc Matsil, New York State Director for the Trust for Public Land, believes the greenway has the potential to connect neighborhoods, running from Rego Park to Ozone Park. He speculates the greenspace will provide a cultural outlet for the already diverse area, and there are plans to establish food carts from local vendors.
Community Board 9 chair Andrea Crawford supports the project, claiming many residents are favorable towards the idea as well.
“There have been a lot of positive responses,” said Crawford. “It’s hard for anyone to say they don’t want more greenspace.”
The Trust for Public Land will conduct a feasibility study on the space in 2012, examining the park’s potential costs, structural issues and security requirements. According to Crawford, no public funds will go towards conducting the research.
“Once we have answers to all these studies, I think those who are skeptical will be on board,” said Crawford.
Crawford called the current state of the projected park’s location “a nuisance” and “dangerous,” claiming the site is littered with old mattresses and empty beer bottles.
“[The park] will help the city be more ‘green’. It has the potential to be a world class park,” said Crawford.
Matsil claims The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay are looking to gain involvement from area residents when designing the park, hoping community input creates a space that celebrates Queens culture.