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Local News September 20, 2012  RSS feed

WOODHAVEN EYES ABANDONED LINE

Public Forum On Rockaway Branch Ideas
by Robert Pozarycki


A portion of the defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road, shown from the corner of Park Lane South and 98th Street in Woodhaven. 
(photos courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association) A portion of the defunct Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road, shown from the corner of Park Lane South and 98th Street in Woodhaven. (photos courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association) Woodhaven residents will get the opportunity to provide their input regarding the proposed reuse of the longabandoned Rockaway Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) during a forum sponsored by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 29.

As announced, the special session will take place beginning at 1 p.m. at Queens Tabernacle, located at 86-03 96th St., about a block from the defunct rail line.

According to a press release issued by the WRBA, the forum will feature speakers regarding the two ideas pitched in recent months for reusing the Rockaway Beach branch, which runs north-to-south between the LIRR Main Line in Rego Park and the A line near Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park.

In Woodhaven, the branch runs along 98th Street, adjacent to the Forest Park Co-ops and other homes, and serves as the community’s border with Richmond Hill.

The Rockaway Beach branch, as previously reported, was taken out of commission by the LIRR about 50 years ago. Over the years, the line be- came reforested with trees and other natural overgrowth.

Earlier this year, elected officials in southern Queens and the Rockaways announced their support for reactivating train service along the Rockaway Beach branch in order to serve growing neighborhoods in the area and businesses such as the Resorts World New York casino at Aqueduct Racetrack.

On the other hand, the Trust for Public Land, with the support of bicycle and park advocates in central Queens, is reportedly studying the potential development of the defunct branch as “Queensway,” a combined bike path and linear park in the style of the High Line Park in Manhattan.

After advocates for renewed rail service and the Queensway address attendees, the public will get their chance to ask questions and speak their minds about the future of the Rockaway Beach branch, the WRBA noted.

“My entire life, I’ve lived just a block away from those tracks. I know that either proposal, if it became a reality, would have an enormous impact on those who live nearby and on Woodhaven as a whole,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, the WRBA’s director of communications. “Other neighborhoods have publicly weighed in on this issue. Now it’s time for the people of Woodhaven to hear the arguments for each side, ask tough questions and make known where they stand.”

It was noted that the thoughts conveyed at the forum will help the WRBA leadership determine the organization’s official opinion on the matter.

For more information about the WRBA’s special meeting, visit www.woodhaven-nyc.org or call 1-718-296-3735.