By Jeremy Walsh
As the MTA puts together its next five-year capital plan, elected officials in Ridgewood are calling on the agency to let them turn a neglected piece of property into green space.
Temporarily, at least.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Glendale) gathered last Thursday to ask the Long Island Rail Road to allow them to convert a derelict property near the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road until the agency gets around to redeveloping it.
The news conference was held the day after Crowley made her case to members of the MTA board of directors, whom she said promised to survey the area and consider her proposal.
“While our plans to redevelop the site remain on hold, the LIRR welcomes suggestions for its interim use,” LIRR President Helena Williams said in a statement. “We certainly support beautification options and would like to meet with community representatives to hear their suggestions.”
Crowley said the plan would benefit the community, which is short on green space.
“If there is a question of funding, we will raise the needed monies for a contractor to take down the structure and clear out the debris,” she said in a statement. “If there is a question about who will do the labor, there is a legion of volunteers ready to maintain the upkeep of the green space.”
Addabbo agreed, calling the derelict building “a property that has probably very little value to them but a lot of value to us.”
The lot at 61-50 Metropolitan Ave. is the site of an abandoned newsstand and convenience store. Plans to develop the property date back to the 2003 fiscal year and an item was included in the MTA’s current five-year capital plan, Crowley’s office said.
A glance through the agency’s capital plan document does not mention the site specifically, but a “demolition” category does set aside $1.6 million to “demolish abandoned structures along the [right of way] that pose a potential danger to employees and customers and are eyesores in the communities where they are located.”
Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said that any improvements the LIRR had planned for the property were put on hold about five years ago when the city Department of Transportation unveiled a plan to refurbish the bridge that carries Metropolitan Avenue over the railroad tracks. A DOT spokeswoman was unable to provide further information by press time Tuesday.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.