Railway favored over greenway?


| aaltman@queenscourier.com |



A plan for a greener Queens has met some opposition.

The Institute for Rational Mobility, a non-profit group of transit advocates, disapproves of the construction of a greenway along three miles of abandoned railway stretching from Rego Park to Ozone Park. They feel the train tracks, which have remained idle for 50 years, would better serve the community if revived for their original purpose – extended transportation throughout the borough.

George Haikalis, president of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, feels the reactivation of the railway does not necessarily mean hindering the creation of a park, suggesting that the two projects can exist simultaneously. Haikalis, who considers himself “a long-time supporter of parks and open space,” compares his vision of a tandem greenway and railway to the layout of the Manhattan Bridge.

“[Officials in charge of designing the project] just have to be thoughtful and creative,” said Haikalis. “It’s not trying to pit one against the other.”

Haikalis alleges the venture requires less work, as several structures are already in place, estimating the undertaking will cost about $500 million. If revived, the railway will run from Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport.

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder said he vehemently opposes turning the railway into a park, alleging that the revival of a train to south Queens will benefit a community he calls “severely underserved.” Goldfeder also argued the necessity of an extended transit system if the proposed plan to build a convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack falls into place.

While both Goldfeder and Haikalis are in favor of preserving green space, they feel the railway will best serve the area if restored.