By Gina Martinez
After decades of confusion, Queens residents can now rejoice in the clarification of the Briarwood subway station. State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) , Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) and Seymour Schwartz announced the renaming of the Briarwood-Van Wyck subway station to simply Briarwood after a 14-year battle.
Avella and Weprin both introduced legislation that required the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to remove “Van Wyck Boulevard” from all signage at the stop. The bill was passed but later vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. MTA was then directed to make the changes.
Avella recognized what a victory this was for Briarwood residents.
“The renaming of what is now the Briarwood subway station is a long time coming and represents a huge victory for the people who have fought it so long. There has been no connection between Van Wyck Boulevard and this area of Briarwood for quite some time, and it is unfair to continue referencing the street in the name of this station,” Avella said. “It is about time that the name of the neighborhood’s only train station reflects the people who live here, not a street that once ran through the area.”
Schwartz, who led the effort for the name change, credited the Briarwood activists for their efforts.
“The credit is due to all our community activists, to those who have written the letters, joined our rallies and the press conferences and contacts with our legislators, such as Assemblyman Weprin and Senator Avella, to achieve these goals,” he said. “Together, with their close support, we continue to strengthen and maintain our community quality of life, and keep Briarwood a desirable community to live and work in.”
Residents and community association members gathered around the station and were pleased with the results of their efforts.
“People are proud of the neighborhood,” Marty Guttman said.
“They say New York City is a city of neighborhoods, and this is a neighborhood and it should be recognized as such,”Guttman said. “It also speaks to what community organizations can do. If the community works together, things can get done, whereas one person spitting into the wind doesnt go anywhere.”
Franklin Harris, a Briarwood resident since 1993, is happy about the name change.
“It’s been Briarwood-Van Wyck for so long, and then you have Jamaica-Van Wyck so it’s confusing for passengers,” he said. “This way it’s less confusing and people know where to go. We’re happy about this, it took 14 years and now we have something that really belongs to us.We appreciate the recognition.”