By Sarina Trangle

The greenery that has taken root along the long-shuttered Rockaway Beach LIRR spur appears one step closer to claiming the tracks, thanks to a state grant.

The New York City Regional Economic Development Council, one of 10 bodies overseen by the state, awarded a $433,750 grant for the design of a roughly 1.5-mile section of the proposed QueensWay.

Friends of the QueensWay, which is pushing the park, wants to transform the 3.5 miles of rail bed between Rego Park and Ozone Park into a High Line-style park with pedestrian and bike paths, as well as other playgrounds and features.

The proposal has riled public transit advocates, who would like to see train service resume on the tracks, and some nearby homeowners concerned about noise, police patrolling of the park and its effect on property values.

Friends of the QueensWay has partnered with The Trust for Public Land, a national organization that advocates for the creation and preservation of parks, on pitching the QueensWay.

After securing a state grant last year for studying the feasibility of the park, the Trust for Public Land won a second award last week.

“We’d like to thank the governor and the New York City REDC for acknowledging, yet again, the tremendous value in building the QueensWay,” The Trust for Public Land’s New York director, Marc Matsil, said in a statement. “They, like the thousands of local supporters and elected officials, recognize it will boost local businesses, provide safe access to recreation, will provide alternative transportation choices and will help fill a significant park equity void.”

Friends of the QueensWay said the $433,750 will go toward designing the northern portion of the proposed greenway in Rego Park.

The group previously put the cost of the entire project at $120 million.

So far Friends of the QueensWay said it has raised $2 million.

Phil McManus, whose Queens Public Transit Committee is advocating for reviving train service on the spur, said his group intends to apply for a $3,000 grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City, which supports civic efforts.

“It’s nice for them to have The Trust for Public Land because they already have that organization,” McManus said. “We’re really just a bunch of commuters begging our government.”

Still the fate of the Rockaway Beach line, which last carried trains in 1962, is far from settled.

Of the 47 acres eyed by both groups, about 40 are managed by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and seven by the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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