Long Island City may become home to one of NYC’s quirkiest new parks. The MTA has recently released a Request for Expressions of Interest for the adaptive reuse of a set of disused train tracks that runs Skillman Avenue to Dutch Kills (a short waterway off Newtown Creek).
The MTA’s request is specifically community-oriented, and suggests that possible reuses could be open space, urban farming, museum or sculpture garden space. It is also clear that if they go on to solicit actual proposals, they will only offering a lease to the winning group. The bottom line being that the MTA can break the lease at any time should the need for future rail use arise.
In the past, these tracks were used to transport freight and to turn around locomotives. With the relocation last year of several freight customers to a newly recreated rail yard along Newtown Creek, and modern trains that do not need their locomotives turned around – the only possible future rail use would be as part of a much larger new transit route.
A portion of the land included in the request is a short stretch of track that branches off of the Montauk Cutoff. This plot of land has already been successfully reused by a community group called “The Smiling Hogshead Ranch”. The ranch is a case study in urban gardening, composting, and cooperative reuse.
An outgrowth of the ranch has been the formation of “The Cutoff Committee,” which is putting together a response to the MTA’s request. This group is looking to build upon the success of their small urban garden, and is keen on gathering as much creative energy and support as they can for a reuse plan (that is in the works).
If you want to join up with the cutoff committee, simply go to the next meeting, on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at 6:30 PM, at Flux Factory in L.I.C.
Next, check out 7 underground tunnels where NYC’s subway trains go to rest. Check out the Lowline, a plan for an underground park in NYC and the Queensway, a proposed High Line-esque park.