CB 6 to consider 3.5-mile greenway

By Howard Koplowitz

The branch currently consists of a 3-1/2-mile stretch of abandoned tracks that run from Rego Park, meandering through Forest Park and Richmond Hill and ending in Ozone Park. Due to a drop in ridership, the LIRR closed the branch in 1962.A greenway would include a bicycle and pedestrian paths and would provide a source of recreation for area residents, said Ivan Mrakvocic of the Rockaway Beach Branch Greenway Committee and Community Board 9 president. Mrakvocic was speaking at a Community Board 10 meeting, which covers Ozone Park, earlier this month. Two years ago, CB 9 adopted a resolution in support of the project, Mrakovcic said, and it has the approval of state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills).City Councilwoman Melinda Katz's (D-Forest Hills) office said she does not enthusiastically endorse the project because of concerns about security, funding and ownership of the greenway.Rego Park residents have resisted the project because of its proximity to homes and because they worry teens will use the space to congregate and drink.CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Bratton wanted to know if the city or Metropolitan Transit Authority indicated that it would approve of the plan and where funding for the study would come from. She also said there may be a need for the railroad tracks because of the city's projected 1 million population increase by 2030.”I'd rather have some indication from the city or the state that they endorse the project before going forward with a study,” Bratton said.Jordan Sandkes of the greenway group said the organization cannot ask the city one way or the other if it would approve the project. CB 10 member John Fazio said he would support the effort Ð on condition that the railway be revitalized along with the greenway.CB 6 said that if the local 112th Precinct could not patrol the path security would be an issue. The other point to iron out is whether the city or MTA would own the greenway.The feasibility study CB 6 commissioned was not ready yet as of Monday, according to district manager Frank Gulluscio.Reporter Alex Christodoulides contributed to this story.

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