The Trust for Public Land and the Friends of the QueensWay have been working towards a comprehensive plan to develop an intricate High Line-inspired design for more than a year, and on Monday they presented their plans at a community workshop for more than 100 residents at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School on Metropolitan Ave.
After watching dlstudio and WXY architecture + urban Design present their preliminary design plans, Travis Terry, a steering committee member of the Friends of the QueensWay, said he was thrilled to watch the progress of their project.
“We’re really excited because this is the culmination of a lot of research and a lot of feedback and community outreach to come up with some preliminary designs and findings,” Terry said.
The new designs propose a variety of regionally themed park spaces with a number of possibilities for playgrounds, trails, farmers markets, bike lanes and educational components.
Susannah Drake, founder of dlandstudio, said while residents seem to have focused much of their concerns around the safety aspects of the proposed park space, she said the newly appointed parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver might offer a new vision for the future of the city.
“I have a feeling that there may be a new vision of how the parks are managed as an interconnected system,” Drake suggested. “The QueensWay is part of a whole linear idea about parks in New York City that could be a remarkable green necklace around the boroughs. There’s an idea of a Brooklyn/Queens greenway, but it’s really just an idea at this point.”
After Drake and her team presented a number of their possible designs for the future of the tracks, community members took part in a updated workshop.
“This is like working with a lot of different towns on their landscaping, but it’s also a connected landscaping,” Drake explained of the outreach process. “So this is about how you connect with the need for a an individual personality that reflects the neighboring community.”
Peter Beadle, a volunteer with Friends of the QueensWay, said he was astonished with the amount of work put into making their plan one step closer to a reality.
“One of the amazing things that this group of architects, engineers and planners have done is they have really drilled down to a fine level of detail of what’s appropriate in which neighborhood,” Beadle said. “They planned it down to the grass, which grass goes to the north and which grass goes to the south. It’s really amazing to see.”
Marc Matsil, New York director for the Trust for Public Land, said he was thrilled with all of the possibilities and new designs.
“There are 104 cultural groups identified in the region,” Matsil said. “The QueensWay will be defined by the constituents that reside around it.
While many residents were there in support of the plans, some transit supporters rallied for their proposal for a revived commuter route.
Philip McManus, founding member of the Queens Public Transit Committee, and several members of the pro-transportation organization were also at the meeting to advocate for what they say is a vital opportunity to bring some much-needed transportation to the borough.
“It’s all about transportation,” McManus said, standing outside, holding signs in protest of the park conversion plan. “How do you go to work? How do you go to school? You’ve got to have transportation and it’s not just trains or bikes, it’s everything.”
McManus said while the plans do incorporate a possibility for shared bike lanes, the Queens Public Transit Committee will not be satisfied unless there is a plan for mass transit brought back to the abandoned tracks.
“The problem is it’s not realistic because it will not affect the thousands who use mass transit every day to go to work,” he said. “The reality is that we need trains for everybody.”