Tag Archives: WRBA

Woodhaven residents join area lawmaker in opposing Select Bus Service plan

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Many of those gathered at the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) town hall meeting on Saturday voiced their opposition to plans for Select Bus Service (SBS) plan along the Woodhaven Boulevard corridor in the months ahead.

“Something is going to happen. There will be Select Bus Service,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “But for those of us who live in and around Woodhaven Boulevard, we will live with whatever they do here. We have to be heard.”

Many residents expressed concerns over the loss of a lane, as well as the loss of parking along Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South, under the DOT’s current SBS plan.

“I don’t believe removing the right lane of traffic is correct,” Addabbo added. “Putting people in the median to wait for buses is not safe. It’s a bad plan.”

Others feared the ban on left-hand turns onto Jamaica Avenue will not only hurt businesses along the busy shopping strip, but would also increase traffic on narrow residential side streets.

“Think of the two schools on 89th Street,” Addabbo added. The senator fears that local streets could become thruways and truck routes for vehicles seeking to avoid congestion on Woodhaven Boulevard potentially caused by the SBS changes.

“The one thing we said from day one is that something has to be done,” explained WRBA president Martin Colberg. “But what works in one community is not always going to work in another. There has to be a line where it has to stop here and we have to rethink this.”


Jose Vasquez, president of the task force known as Committee for a Better Woodhaven, began a petition in opposition to SBS and has since collected over 80 signatures from residents. Vasquez collected more signatures at the WRBA meeting and plans to present his petition to the DOT and the MTA at the next Community Board 9 meeting.

Addabbo applauded his efforts and urged residents to write similar letters so that their voices can be heard.

“We’re a smart-thinking community,” Colberg said. “We’re not going to let anything just be shoved down our throats. That’s not going to happen. I understand the mayor wants something done in terms of SBS, but then I invite the mayor to come to Woodhaven and see how this going to affect us.”

According to Addabbo, the DOT aims to finalize their SBS plans for Woodhaven Boulevard by the end of the fall.

“There will be a follow-up meeting to address concerns before the plan is finalized,” added Gregory Mitchell of Council member Eric Ulrich’s office.


Woodhaven preparing for neighborhood-wide yard sale

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Project Woodhaven

Residents of Woodhaven are gearing up for the fourth annual Great Woodhaven Yard Sale, hosted by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) and Project Woodhaven.

The concept for the neighborhood-wide yard sale, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., came from WRBA member Vance Barbour. He believed it would be a boon for local residents to hold yard sales on the same day rather than scattered across the calendar.

“The Great Woodhaven Yard Sale will give people a whole range of places to visit,” said Ed Wendell of Project Woodhaven. “It will help the people who hold yard sales by helping to get the word out. People in other neighborhoods would see and it will draw in people from other places. People are not going to come from Ridgewood, Brooklyn or other places for one yard sale. It brings people to neighborhood. It’s a really good concept where it helps the people who are having the yard sales and the people looking to buy stuff.”

Currently, the WRBA is looking for more residents to join in and become participants. Last year, over 100 households across Woodhaven participated in the yard sale.

“It’s been steadily growing. People start looking forward to it,” Wendell said. “We have about 25 houses participating so far, with more scheduled to register.”

A Facebook page has been set up where residents can post photos of items they will have on sale, check out items that others have posted for sale and talk with their neighbors.

“That’s one of the things we tried to do, is give people a place to post things they have for sale,” Wendell said. “It is popular to have neighbors joining together. It allows people to have more opportunities to shop.”

Once registration is complete, the WRBA will have a map of locations that are participating available on request.

“People can stop in restaurants and make a day of it. It helps businesses in the area. It’s a fun thing,” Wendell said. “I’m hoping eventually it will get to the point where we have so many houses that we will get people from all over coming to the yard sales.”

In case of rain, the rain date will be Sunday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit the Great Woodhaven Yard Sale Facebook page.


Civic fumes over a trashy situation in Woodhaven

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Frustrations aimed at the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) over their overnight enforcement policies came to a head during the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting on May 16 at the Emanuel United Church of Christ.

The WRBA has repeatedly petitioned the DSNY to change its practice of issuing pricey overnight summonses to business owners along Jamaica Avenue for illegally dumped trash. In recent months, the WRBA has received numerous summonses over garbage found in front of the group’s headquarters, located at 84-20 Jamaica Ave.

“They ticket overnight because that’s when people bring their bags to the curb for pickup,” explained Gregory Mitchell of City Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office. “Unfortunately, there’s an issue that if people dump garbage in front of somebody’s business, the property owner can get a ticket themselves.”

The WRBA held a recent closed-door meeting with board members, elected officials and DSNY supervisors. According to WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp, the DSNY officials explained that if they wanted a change in policy, they would need to petition their local city council member to change the regulations.

“When we were told by our city agencies to go to our City Council member because they’re not going to do anything about it, we realized this is a screwed up situation,” he said. “What are we supposed to do?”

Ulrich was considering changes in legislation back in October 2014 in the form of an “LS request” to investigate the feasibility of the proposed policy change.

“There’s really no way for us to legislate our way out of that problem,” Mitchell said. “We can change the law, but that’s not going to stop people from dumping garbage in the street.”

Blenkinsopp voiced his frustration over the situation to Mitchell. “It sounds like it took an awfully long time to find out we wouldn’t get any results from that process,” he said.

Assemblyman Mike Miller also voiced his displeasure over the situation.

“They don’t care,” said Miller, who participated in the aforementioned closed-door meeting with DSNY officials. “When we challenged them, they said, ‘That’s the way it is. This is the process. This is how we do it.’ It has to be changed.”

Miller explained that he has introduced legislation calling for a Citizen Review Board to deal with and discuss incidents such as wrongly issued summonses.

Mitchell proposed a follow-up meeting between WRBA board members and DSNY officials. He also mentioned that he would try to bring a DSNY supervisor to the next public WRBA meeting to address these concerns. In addition, he advised WRBA members to keep reporting incidents of illegal dumping to 311.

However, according to WRBA President Martin Colberg, the group once reported an illegally dumped mattress in front of their office, only to be hit with a pricey summons while sitting inside. Colberg said that he was considering installing security cameras outside WRBA’s Jamaica Avenue office to not only catch violators in the act, but to prove the group’s innocence to DSNY.

When asked if they could take their fight beyond City Council, Blenkinsopp explained that they have yet to receive a reply from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office regarding the matter.

“Back when he was public advocate, Bill De Blasio wrote a letter supporting a change in this law, but now that he’s mayor, he’s no longer responding to our reminders,” he said. “We can’t get the mayor to respond to his own previous policy decisions and to be consistent in his stance on this.”


Star of Queens: Martin Colberg, president, Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


COMMUNITY SERVICE: Martin Colberg is the president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), a civic association that addresses problems in the community of Woodhaven.

BACKGROUND: Colberg grew up in the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill areas, and has been in Woodhaven for the past 10 years.  Four years ago, Colberg attended his first WRBA meeting, and found the ideas of the association very interesting, saying “I was excited to put some more time and effort into my community.”

GOALS: Colberg has recently been named the new president of the WRBA, and is also the first Latino president, since the start of the association, 42 years ago. Colberg believes this to be a great representation of the growth and diversity in the neighborhood.

According to Colberg, his goal in the coming year will be to continue to get others involved in helping their community.

“I definitely want to concentrate on outreach, among other things in the coming year, just to get more numbers in our membership,” he said.

Colberg wants to concentrate on getting the younger generation involved in their community, hoping he can partner with schools or create a program, so that younger people can realize that they are needed.

BEST MEMORY:  One of Colberg’s best memories was watching his community come together to help those in need after Superstorm Sandy.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to watch so many members of the community put so much money, time and effort into helping those in need,” he said. Colberg recalled keeping the office open for a full week, as a drop-off station, and watching people come multiple times to give their time or make donations of clothes, food or money.

“I remember people getting to their last quarter tank of gas and still making one more trip to the Rockaways to help out.”

INSPIRATION: Colberg’s drive is just seeing others in his neighborhood get involved, saying, “in the fast-paced world that we are in, not a lot of people have that extra time to put into helping their community, but when they do show up, I feel like I have to help out as well.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: As the new president of the WRBA, his biggest challenge is yet to come.  Looking forward, he feels his challenge would just be to gain more exposure and get more people involved, which he believes he can accomplish by the end of the year.



Transit committee finds new support for restarting Rockaway Beach Line

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jeff Liao

One by one, members of the Queens Public Transit Committee (QPTC), an organization focused on improving transportation in the borough, thanked Community Board 5 (CB5) last week.

The board voted to support the idea of restarting the defunct Rockaway Beach Line last month, in part to help ease traffic congestion issues on major thoroughfares, such as Woodhaven Boulevard.

The news was significant for QPTC, because the 3.5-mile trail could also be transformed into a park.

“Getting more people like CB5 is tremendous because they realize overcrowding is becoming a major problem,” said Phil McManus, chair of the QPTC.

In November of last year, Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, who has voiced support for a new train, announced that Queens College will be doing a study of both the train and park ideas.

The Friends of the QueensWay (FQW), a group made up of residents that live near the trail who are pushing to transform the former rail line into a public green space, has argued against restarting the line.

“After over five decades of abandonment and multiple studies concluding that rail reactivation is not feasible, the time has come to utilize the over 50 acres of land that make up the QueensWay,” according to a statement from FQW. “As evidence shows, rebuilding this abandoned land will dramatically improve the quality of life, create jobs and safer streets, and highlight the incredible history and cultural diversity of central and southern Queens.”

FQW also said that the new park will have a much needed bike path, which could be used for transportation.

Not everyone has taken a side though. Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) would like to see formal proposals, instead of making a decision on speculation.

“We want to make sure a lot of concerns are answered. Can’t say that we are for or against,” said Martin Colberg, president of the WRBA.

McManus said the QPTC isn’t opposed to doing both ideas in some capacity, but a FQW representative said that isn’t a possibility.

“I just don’t see that as being realistic,” said Travis Terry, a member of FQW Steering Committee. “I wouldn’t even like to consider that option until there is some proof.”



Woodhaven QueensWay forum brings in new ideas

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

New ideas are flowing in for the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail line.

The Woodhaven Residents Block Assocation (WRBA) hosted what attendees are calling the truest, open public forum held thus far regarding the QueensWay and Rockaway Beach line.

Advocates for the proposed 3.5-mile QueensWay park along the abandoned rail line addressed those with reservations about the project and vice versa on Monday in Woodhaven.

Ed Wendell, WRBA president, brought a new idea to the table. He said the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway that currently runs through Forest Park has been “a problem for 20 years,” and QueensWay officials should use this space as their “lab experiment.”

“Why don’t we focus on cleaning up the existing greenway,” he said. “Show us what you can do, and the community will be much more receptive.”

Alexander Blenkinsopp, a WRBA member, called this idea “brilliant,” and offered an additional option for “each community to decide what they want done with their stretch of the tracks.”

The old rail line runs up 98th Street from the Rockaways to Manhattan.

“If the people of Forest Hills really want the QueensWay, let them have it in their neighborhood,” he said. “And if it’s so wonderful, the residents of Woodhaven will see how great it is in Forest Hills and will eventually welcome it into their community as well.”

Wendell echoed many people when he said one main concern to address before moving forward with building a new park is security in existing greenspaces such as Forest Park.

“We see women jogging in the morning using flashlights,” Wendell said. “How terrifying is that? That they have to do this.”

He said that park officials as well as cops in the 102nd Precinct should be given proper resources to patrol the park before more acres are added via the QueensWay, which would connect to Forest Park.

A feasibility study to determine the possibility of creating the new park is currently underway, and QueensWay supporters noted it is “just a study” and “there really is no plan yet.”

However, residents doubt a QueensWay study would show the QueensWay is not feasible.

“Any proposals that come back are going to have to take into account a lot of people’s concerns,” Wendell said. “There are a whole lot of emotions and feelings on it.”



Woodhaven noise complaints raise concerns

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

With summer coming, concerns about noise are among the top worries in the neighborhood, as addressed at the June 15 meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

WRBA President Ed Wendell said many sound abusers have been a constant problem for residents. He added they often continue the noise, if not even raising the volume, if 3-1-1 is called.

WRBA recently ran an online survey that drew replies from 45 people, Wendell said. He explained that thirty-two of the complaints were for loud parties, while 39 of the total incidents took place between 6 p.m. and midnight.

“I know a couple of people here in this room have issues with neighbors that are chronic locations where the behavior, while not only rude, in some cases borders on harassment,” he said. “It sounds like what’s happened is they’ve complained a number of times, the people that have been complained about got wind of it, and now they’re fighting back with behaviors that would be considered harassment.”

While many of these complaints relate to parties, WRBA Treasurer Vance Barbour said he recently encountered two vehicles blasting music on Jamaica Avenue so loudly that the vibrations shook the cars’ windows.

“It’s just ridiculous,” he said, “They’re just wiping out our whole commercial strip.”

There were 53 calls to 3-1-1 from May 25 to June 17 within Woodhaven’s zip code, according to city data. Thirty of those calls fell under the categories of “loud music/party” or “car/truck music.”

The 102nd Precinct is taking a proactive approach to combating chronic noise makers, according to community affairs officer Jose Severino. Officers in the past have given a warning to partiers, only to turn the corner to hear the music return, he said.

Now, Severino said the precinct is issuing summonses and nipping the problem in the bud.

“I’m taking a different approach,” he said. “I don’t want to go in August, I want to go right now and take care of it.”



Residents want landlord held responsible for Woodhaven building collapse

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter / @FDNY


Concerned Woodhaven residents want to know what repercussions, if any, a local landowner will face after his building collapsed last month, damaging the adjacent Volunteer Ambulance Corps and forcing residents to leave the Woodhaven Senior Center.

An abandoned furniture store at 78-19 Jamaica Avenue crumbled onto the street on April 12, crushing a minivan parked out front and shutting down a section of the road while debris was removed.

The 78-19 Jamaica Avenue LLC owns the building, according to the Department of Finance.

At a May 18 meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA), many voiced their desire to see the landlord held responsible for alleged negligence that led to the vacant building’s collapse.

According to the Department of Buildings’ (DOB) website, the structure had 35 violations and a partial vacate order before the collapse.

An impending Environmental Control Board hearing will determine if the owner — who could not be reached — is at fault for the violations.

The Woodhaven Senior Center is currently covered by a tarp, which must be proven watertight before seniors will be allowed back into the building.



Woodhaven graffiti surges

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Tag, you’re it.

About 60 percent of mailboxes in Woodhaven are tagged right now, according to Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell. By the end of last summer, nearly, if not all, mailboxes and fire poles in the neighborhood were graffiti-free, he said.

But during the winter, when Wendell said it’s harder to do cleanups, the vandals went back to make their mark on their favorite “canvas,” USPS mailboxes.

“It’s not really good painting weather,” he said. “You just do your best. When the springtime comes, you just do it all again over.”

Captain Elwood Selover, head of the Citywide Vandals Task Force, spoke to the 102nd Precinct Community Council on Tuesday, March 19 about how the NYPD combats graffiti.

While it’s considered a relatively minor crime, Selover said graffiti in a neighborhood can give a certain feel of lawlessness. By tracking certain marks, the division has been able to arrest taggers for up to 100 charges, he said, across several boroughs.

Captain Elwood Selover at the 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting about graffiti. 

“The little things take care of the big things,” Selover said. “People are doing jail time for it.”

Because vandals traditionally like to have their own tags, the unit has been able to track handwriting, and determine which are gang related.

Wendell said he hopes to have Selover or someone from the unit speak at a WRBA meeting soon so residents can get an idea of how the NYPD tracks taggers. He said he and other WRBA members will start going out and repainting mailboxes when the weather gets warmer.

“When you leave it alone,” he said, “You’re telling the people who did this ‘We’re not serious about enforcing it.’”




Woodhaven residents upset over slow response to sewage issue

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

Woodhaven residents want to know why it took so long to stop the sewage that was spewing into the streets of their neighborhood.

At the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) March 16 meeting, several members inquired why the feces-ridden puddle continued to be a problem, considering how close it was to a nursery school.

“When there’s a fire, the Fire Department can rush into a house,” said WRBA President Ed Wendell. “They don’t need to ring the doorbell and get permission – there’s a fire. In this case here, this to me was every bit as bad as a fire, because you had human waste spilling out into a street right next to a nursery school.”

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) put out an emergency bid to finally fix the lingering problem. Until then, agencies could only slap the landlord with fines, officials said. There’s a $20,000 lien against the house because of fines racking up since 2005, according to Assemblymember Michael Miller’s office.

Children from neighboring St. Luke’s Nursery School had to walk into the street to get out of the waste-filled puddle coming from the house, Wendell said, and the block was never closed off or a crossing guard installed at the site.

“That sidewalk should have been closed, it should have been a hazmat situation,” he said. “Something should have been done.”

The situation with this house was unique because it dealt with tenants, according to Rudy S. Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In normal circumstances, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would shut the water off, he said. But since the city did not want to make the tenants suffer for an absentee landlord, the city looked to take other options such as sending in HPD.

Giuliani said Ulrich’s office is working on finding out what took so long to fix the problem.




Block Watchers: Looking out for Woodhaven

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


They’re keeping an eye on your street.

A representative from the Block Watchers, a citizens’ patrol initiative, informed and trained members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) at the civic group’s February 20 meeting.

There are about 70 registered Block Watchers in the Woodhaven community thanks to the meeting.

Officer Dion Harris, of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau, said the program’s intent is for residents to serve as watchdogs for the police. This includes knowing which situations require a call to 9-1-1, or 3-1-1, observing situations and not getting physically involved in altercations.

Harris also taught residents how to identify a perpetrator or a vehicle to better inform police. Another item was how to identify a street, even if signs were not visible.

“Think about what you saw, that’s what you will report,” he said.

For more info about getting involved in Block Watchers, contact the WRBA at 718-296-3735.



Broken sewage pipe soils Woodhaven street

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

A broken pipe in Woodhaven has residents concerned about public safety after gushing water, rife with human waste, has soiled the corner of 85th Street and 88th Avenue.

“It’s disgusting,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) president Ed Wendell, who’s been tracking the problem for a few weeks now. Wendell and other WRBA members have contacted city agencies about the problem, but most agencies cannot interfere with a private residence.

Wendell said he drove past the house a few weeks ago and water had been pouring into the street. When he went back two days later, during a bad cold snap, he said the water had frozen with bits of toilet paper and other unmentionables solidified. A snow storm a few days later covered the ice, leading people to think there was nothing but sidewalk underneath. As a result, Wendell said, people were slipping and sliding on the feces-infested ice.

But a bigger problem is one particular neighbor: St. Luke’s Nursery School next door.

The school’s director did not want to comment on the matter.

For everyone’s safety — especially that of the children — the sidewalk either needs to be closed off, or the city needs to install a crossing guard during school hours, Wendell said.

The home’s owner, Noris Requena, according to records, could not be reached at press time, nor could the person listed as the home’s resident.

Because it’s a private home, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cannot forcibly go inside.

Since the problem is inside the house, the city is limited on how it can intervene, said Rudy Giuliani, chief of staff for Councilmember Eric Ulrich. In a normal situation, the city would shut water supply to the home, but since the home is rented out authorities have opted to keep the water on. DEP has visited the home several times, Giuliani said, but the problem seems to be with an absentee landlord.

The next step, he said, was for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to intervene since the city has not been able to track down the landlord.



Final redistricting lines released

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


The final district lines that will go before the City Council were released on Monday, February 4, with moderate changes to the map that was released just two months ago. The new maps were released two days before the Districting Commission was to vote on the lines and discuss the changes district-by-district and borough-by-borough.

Several neighborhoods opposed the lines released in early December, mainly insisting the plans would divide neighborhoods and certain demographics. Independent residents and civic organizations made their unhappiness known at several hearings.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) opposed the December map, as the neighborhood would continue to be divided between two councilmembers. The district currently represented by Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley was essentially flipped with that represented by Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Members spoke out against the lines at a January 14 hearing. WRBA President Ed Wendell said he was disappointed, but realized at this point change probably would not have come. He said the WRBA would “have to work twice as hard to get our elected officials’ attention.”

Kris Gounden, an Ozone Park resident who’s been active in the West Indian community, said he was disappointed that parts of South Ozone Park were still incorporated into the 32nd District, despite pleas by residents.

“We want someone that’s born of us,” he said. “That looks like us. That’s more likely to speak of our own interest.



Residents fight against redistricting division

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

In their last attempt before the maps went to the City Council for votes, residents told the New York City Redistricting Commission changes had to be made to keep neighborhoods such as South Ozone Park and Woodhaven in one piece.

“This isn’t about which district we end up with, this isn’t about which representative we get,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) President Ed Wendell. “We just know that when we’re divided, it weakens our position.”

The Monday, January 14 hearing was the third before a final draft is sent to the City Council for a vote. Representatives have three weeks to vote either in favor or against the map; the new Council lines will be adopted if the legislature can’t come to a vote by deadline. The commission will re-explore lines after this latest round of hearings and make any changes it feels necessary.

Concerns about neighborhoods in Flushing and Bayside were addressed at the meeting — particularly Mitchell Linden, Broadway and Murray Hill — where many say the towns were split or dislocated from traditional districts. Councilmember , reading from a prepared testimony, called for the commission to keep these neighborhoods united, as they had been in the past.

Wendell, one of several WRBA members to speak, harkened back to the first draft of Council lines in which Woodhaven was almost completely in one councilmember’s district. The second draft, however, essentially flipped Woodhaven’s representatives and divided the area again.

Colin Bucca, another Woodhaven resident, told the commissioners continuing to keep Woodhaven in two would ruin the integrity and the character of the neighborhood.

“It’s not just equations on a spread sheet, it’s not just lines on a map, it’s people,” he said. “A neighborhood is defined by the people that live there. I live in Woodhaven; that’s my neighborhood.”

Many others spoke about neighboring South Ozone Park being placed in District 28, but wanted the western line of the district pushed to Woodhaven Boulevard — incorporating such landmarks as John Adams High School.
The desire for a unified Indo-Caribbean community has been the driving force behind this push, something that many in attendance spoke to.

“We are disappointed that South Ozone Park, part of the same community of interest, remains falsely divided along Lefferts Boulevard,” said Videsh Persaud, a program coordinator for the Indo-Caribbean Alliance. “While we appreciate the changes that were made in Richmond Hill, the process is incomplete without adjustments to South Ozone Park as well. These are part of the same community, and they must be kept in the same district.”

Kris Gounden, a community activist for the area, said residents want elected officials who understand their cultures and needs. Gounden said the city had suppressed the Indo-Caribbean community in south Queens and had stunted its ability to grow and prosper.


Queensway closer to reality

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Because of a state-secured grant, the much debated Queensway project is one step closer to getting off the ground.

The Trust for Park Land has received $467,000 from Governor Andrew Cuomo to study the feasibility of a three-and-a-half mile greenway on what once was the Rockaway Beach LIRR line.

This study would look at the plethora of things that go into converting the abandoned rail line into parkland, including engineering requirements, the environmental impact of the project and community feedback. Because more homes have been built around the tracks since service stopped in 1963, any use of the land would require studies to see how it will affect residents.

Friends of the Queensway, an advocacy group for the nature space, say it’s the first step in making the five-year-old dream come true.

“This is tremendous,” said Friends of the Queensway member Andrea Crawford. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The walkway, expected to be double the size of Manhattan’s High Line, would celebrate the culture and diversity of Queens, Crawford said. If approved, it would run through neighborhoods such as Forest Hills, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.

“There’s a hundred and something languages spoken within a mile of the Queensway,” she said. “So that’s what makes this so exciting. It really represents Queens.”

Others, however, have different ideas on what the land could be used for, particularly transportation for south and central Queens. A new Rockaway LIRR line would connect south Queens to the rest of the borough via mass transit, ease traffic problems and streamline a significantly long commute to Manhattan.

Either project would potentially run right through the middle of Forest Park as well.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who has pushed for a new Rockaway Beach LIRR, thinks this new study should include a look at new transportation options as well. Goldfeder said he is working with rail advocates to ensure transportation is included in the study.

“I am opposed to any plan, or any study, that would exclude the opportunity and possibility of transportation via rail line,” he said. “I’m working with transportation and rail advocates that will work with the Trust for Public Land and do a rail feasibility study at the same time.”

Some just want the strip of land to be cleaned up and maintained.

The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) has not taken a position on either side, but instead thinks the city should address the years of neglect. Either project would misuse state funds and be disruptive to residents living around the area — effectively ruining the character of the neighborhood, said WRBA President Ed Wendell.

“We heard from our residents; they’re dead-set against either plan,” Wendell said.