Assemblyman Goldfeder Joins Queens College Department of Urban Studies to Release Comprehensive Study of Rockaway Beach Rail Line

Released at: November 10, 2014
Contact: Raybblin Vargas

Goldfeder.PNGFor Immediate Release:

Contact: Phil Goldfeder, 718-945-9550

November 10, 2014


***Press Release***


Assemblyman Goldfeder Joins Queens College Department of Urban Studies to Release Comprehensive Study of Rockaway Beach Rail Line

Additional Elected Officials and Unions including Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and TWU Local 100 join historic city-wide coalition of community leaders and transit advocates to fully restore Rockaway Beach Rail Line and improve transit options for Queens and the entire New York City

Goldfeder: This study, performed by objective local experts, further proves our families and businesses want and need additional transit options.

Flushing, NY – In an historic event bringing together prominent elected officials, union leaders and transit advocates from all over the city, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Ozone Park) today joined Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in releasing the Department of Urban Studies comprehensive and objective study demonstrating the need to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and improve transit options for residents of southern Queens and Rockaway. Additionally, Goldfeder was proud to be joined by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, member of the influential Congressional Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Council Committee on Transportation and John Samuelsen, President of TWU Local 100 representing almost 70,00 active and retire transit workers and others, expanding on the already large and diverse coalition.

“Our best and brightest local Queens experts and students have produced the most comprehensive and unbiased study of the needs of our communities surrounding the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line,” said Assemblyman Goldfeder. “Previously, we’ve had to settle for one-sided studies by expensive, out-of-borough consultants paid, at taxpayer expense, to say that a park is the only option for the right-of-way. Now, thanks to Queens College and the hard work of students and faculty in its Urban Studies Department, we have a complete picture. The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-effective way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens.”


Assemblyman Goldfeder joined President Matos Rodríguez and Urban Studies Department Chair Leonard Rodberg in releasing the full report, titled A Community Impact Study of Proposed Uses of the Rockaway Beach Branch Right of Way. The student-led study surveyed thousands of residents and researched available census data to gauge the transportation and park needs of the communities surrounding the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line. The resulting report details existing transportation conditions and access to parkland in the surrounding communities, as well as provides residents’ opinions about the various uses for the right of way. In total, the study survey area encompasses a quarter of a million residents from all ethnic backgrounds and income levels.

The study concluded that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could generate a half a million subway rides a day and that a majority of survey respondents favored reactivation. The survey results also spoke to residents’ and small business owners’ desire for improved transit options. Nearly half of all business owners who completed the study said using the rail line right of way for public transit would have a “significant positive” impact on their business. By comparison, only less than a third believed that the proposed park plan would have a similar impact.

Among surveyed middle class residents with annual household incomes of $50,000 to $100,000, roughly 40% favor reactivating the rail line, compared with around 25% preferring that it be converted to parkland. Similarly, a higher percentage of residents of Forest Hills, Glendale and Rego Park surveyed for the study favored reactivation of the line. In all, two thirds of survey respondents say that they would use the Rockaway Beach Rail Line if it were reactivated.


The study also provides a more accurate picture of park use and access for residents living near the right-of-way. The study points out that families living within a half mile of the line have access to more parkland per acre per resident than the average city resident. Also, many of those surveyed expressed concerns that the park plan, if built, would potentially increase crime and vandalism in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“The Rockaway Beach Branch community impact study reflects the dynamic relationship between Queens College and the communities of Queens. Through this project our students have had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience while contributing valuable information to the debate about an important contemporary urban development issue,” said Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “We would like to thank Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder for his interest in this particular project, as well as his ongoing support of Queens College and its students.”


"The Urban Studies Department, since our founding in the early 1970s, has sought to provide knowledge and analysis that could help the communities of Queens to grow and thrive," said Professor Leonard Rodberg, Chair of the Queens College Department of Urban Studies. "We believe our study of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch line provides valuable data on the impact that reactivation of this rail connection could have on southern Queens and the Rockaways, along with understanding of the likely effects on property values and, through our student-conducted survey, insight into community support for the Queensway linear park and rail options. We're pleased to have been able to make a contribution to the ongoing discussions of these issues."

The Rockaway Beach Line, also known as the White Pot Junction Line, was put into service in the late 19th century under the control of the Long Island Rail Road. It provided residents with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of the city and forty minute commutes to midtown Manhattan from Rockaway. In the early 1960s, parts of the railroad service were condensed, sectioned off and eventually closed. In the following years, communities surrounding the line have seen dramatic increases in population, with the Rockaway Peninsula population nearly doubling.


Assemblyman Goldfeder has made transportation and the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line a top priority. In February of 2012, he called on Governor Cuomo to immediately restore the line to ease commutes for Queens residents. In May of that year, Goldfeder launched a petition that garnered nearly 7,000 signatures that were later delivered to Governor Cuomo, the Port Authority, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in support of bringing the line back to life. As a result, both the MTA and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli have expressed support for the rail line as a cost-efficient way to improve transit options for city residents. At today’s event, an unprecedented coalition came out in support, including Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-05), Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) State Senator Tony Avella, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen and John Cavanagh, Political Coordinator for Iron Workers Local 361.


"As a longtime supporter of restoring the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, I am proud to stand with my colleagues, and especially Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder who has led this effort, in welcoming today's announcement. This transportation improvement would be a real system expansion and its restoration would enable a true one-seat ride to JFK Airport from Penn Station, something that we don't truly have today," said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). "I urge the MTA to support and fully study the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Line and include it in their next capital plan."

"I am pleased to hear the results and commend Queens College President Matos Rodriguez and the college's Department of Urban Studies Chairman Leonard Rodberg for undertaking this year-long study that focused on assessing community transportation patterns and identifying additional options that will enhance the caliber of life of the community. This is an important step in the recovery and a bold step into the future of reliable transportation for the devastated areas of the Rockaways and Southern Queens," said Congressman Gregory Meeks (NY-5). "While this is only the beginning, I have always believed restoring the rail line would speed up the pace of recovery for residents and local businesses and create hundreds of jobs while laying the foundation for a transportation network that accommodates our future growth."


"This study is an important step in the right direction toward increasing much-needed transit options for the residents of Queens. Assemblyman Goldfeder should be commended for his continued leadership with respect to bringing the Rockaway Beach rail line back to life,” said Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). “The people of Queens deserve a more comprehensive mass transportation system, and this study could help bring about that result."

"Too many communities in our city are underserved by our transportation network," said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D - Washington Heights), Chair of the Committee on Transportation. "The residents of Ozone Park, Woodhaven, and the Rockaways work too hard to be confronted daily with incredibly long commutes. The City must utilize our already existing infrastructure, like the Rockaway Beach Rail, to make sure that we do our best to move our growing communities."

"TWU Local 100 fully supports refurbishing the Rockaway Beach line. This is an extremely sensible solution to addressing the tale of two cities when it comes to public transportation. Not only will the Rockaway Beach reactivation cost only a fraction of building a brand new line, but it will also effectively cut the commute for Queens residents by half," said John Samuelsen, President of TWU Local 100. "The quarter of a million Queens residents who live along the Rockaway Beach Branch right-of-way deserve an affordable and reliable public transportation option to get to work and school. Rehabilitating the Rockaway Beach line will give hundreds of thousands of people access to jobs, and it will create tens of thousands of union jobs."

“This Queens College study is another step towards understanding the real needs of every Queens neighborhood and I urge the MTA to include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in their next capital plan,” concluded Goldfeder. “Complete Restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and NYC, create quality job, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion and clean our environments by taking thousands of cars off the road.”

Flushing, NY – In an historic event bringing together prominent elected officials, union leaders and transit advocates from all over the city, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Ozone Park) today joined Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez in releasing the Department of Urban Studies comprehensive and objective study demonstrating the need to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and improve transit options for residents of southern Queens and Rockaway. Additionally, Goldfeder was proud to be joined by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, member of the influential Congressional Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Council Committee on Transportation and John Samuelsen, President of TWU Local 100 representing almost 70,00 active and retire transit workers and others, expanding on the already large and diverse coalition.

 

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