After the results of Federal Aviation Authority’s forums on its AirTrain plan to LaGuardia showed that the majority of local residents had overwhelming concerns about how the proposed plan would not do enough to benefit local residents, the Better Way to LGA coalition proposed an idea: a new Flushing Bay Promenade.
On Tuesday Nov. 19, the coalition — an alliance of economic development groups, transportation advocates and unionized labor — held a press conference stepping up its pressure on Port Authority to renovate the pathway that weaves up the Flushing Bay waterfront.
“This decades-old promenade is in desperate need of revitalization,” said Tom Grech, president of the Queens Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of the coalition. “Let’s use this opportunity to improve the walkway, replace the fencing, add lighting and new benches, make the peer more storm-resilient, add more trees and beautify this space for generations to come.”
Back in March, the Port Authority shifted its preferred route for the train from the median of the Grand Central Parkway to just inside the boundary of the promenade.
“The notion of having to do some construction gives us some opportunity as we go through this part of the neighborhood to re-envision it, repurpose it and update it,” said Grech.
The coalition pointed to the rusty, disintegrating portions of the guard rail, mossy benches and warped walkways as promenade’s deficiencies.
The promenade contains 1.45 miles of railing, 17 drinking fountains, 1,037 trees and 10,944 shrubs. It was constructed for $14.8 million, funded by the Department of Environmental Protection.
The coalition also wrote a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, urging them to factor in the promenade renovation to its plans for the AirTrain, and encourage the agency to continue to listen to ideas from all interested stakeholders.
“The Port Authority has made it clear that it is willing to make a substantial investment in the promenade to make it a better community asset, one that is more welcoming and user-friendly, and we trust that will become a reality,” the coalition wrote in the letter.