By Eric Jankiewicz
The abandoned railroad tracks in southern Queens may not be the High Line style park that advocates envision, but you can still get the “QueensWay Sandwich.”
Advocates met at Ben’s Best, a Jewish deli in Rego Park, to unveil a new sandwich made by the store’s owner. With layers of pastrami and salami packed high on rye bread, the sandwich is sure to bust any pants line, but advocates and store owner Jay Parker are hoping it will also stir the borough’s appetite to transform a 3.5 mile-long abandoned train track known as the Rockaway line into a park.
“What we’re talking about is a vision,” said Marc Mastil, director of the advocacy organization Friends of QueensWay. “Our goal is to publicize the amazing businesses in the borough and connect more than 100 ethnic groups.”
The sandwich – which also has mustard and coleslaw in it – will be available to the public soon for $18.95. And a high sandwich price isn’t the only thing that will come with QueensWay.
Along with the added greenery that a railroad park would contribute, advocates also say that property value near the tracks will increase.
Advocates also released a QueensWay Eats guide that features 31 restaurants along the 3.5 mile track that runs from Richmond Hills in the south up to Rego Park in the north.
“Queens needs something like this,” Mastil said. “We’ve got here a lot of immigrant, working-class people and families that need open space and parks. It’s shameful.”
The guide is meant to reflect the various neighborhoods that the abandoned railroad cuts through. The southern part features Guyanese and Trinidadian restaurants with Central and Eastern European restaurants sprinkled in the middle section around Woodhaven.
“We need to retain our identity,” said Loycent Gordon, the owner of Neir’s, a bar steak house in Woodhaven that is featured in the guide and whose menu also includes an $18.95 signature meal.
“It’s one of the last places in New York City that harks back to what New York City really was.”
As business owners unveiled their $18.95 meals, a man advocating for transforming the abandoned line into rail service to the Rockaways stood outside. Phillip McManus argued that instead of spending the millions to make the railroad into a park, it should be restored as a transportation option.
“A restored Rockaway rail line would help revitalize the community and shorten commutes for working class people,” McManus said.