Saturday, November 1, 2014

The problems with the yards

I live in Woodside, Queens, not too far from Sunnyside. I love both neighborhoods, but there are a few problems. Recently, urban planners and some of my neighbors have focused on a few in particular:

  • The rent is too damn high. I own a co-op, but I do know people who have been displaced, and people who want to live here but are having a hard time finding an affordable apartment. Increasing the housing supply would be a big help.
  • We are cut off from Astoria and Long Island City by the Sunnyside Yards to the north and west. These rail yards break up the street grid, leaving about nine ways to walk across them. All but one involve walking through industrial areas, which can have low foot traffic, especially on nights and weekends. Four of these involve crossing long, noisy, boring bridges over the Sunnyside Yards.
  • We don't have big parks. We have a number of small parks and playgrounds, but no big forests or greenways. The parks we do have can get crowded, particularly on hot summer days.
  • There aren't as many jobs as there could be. We've got relatively low unemployment rates, but we could use more jobs.

The planners have been talking for years about addressing these problems by building a deck over the Sunnyside Yards, but my neighbors are afraid of seeing our infrastructure and services overloaded. I'm concerned that there will be too much parking, and that whatever benefit we get won't be worth the cost. I'm pretty sure there are better solutions to these problems. I'll talk more about the proposals and concerns in future posts.


Unknown said...

Hoboken rail yards have a new plan out there for development. Mix is 65% offices, 25% residential, 15% retail. I don't know the number of parking spaces yet, but I'm quite afraid of expensive, highly subsidized parking being the norm there. Maybe you can compare the plans/actions at Hoboken Yards, Hudson Yards, Atlantic Yards, and Sunnyside Yards as part of your analysis.

Alon said...

You'd think the Sunnyside Yards decking proposal would be paired with more transit service, but no, the LIRR insists on building the Sunnyside station elsewhere.

Matthew M. Robare said...

Your parks get crowded? Really?

I think I've only ever seen three parks that have ever seen any regular use that wasn't just people cutting through them and two of them were major tourist areas.

I thought all parks were as desolate as most of the ones in Boston.

Cap'n Transit said...

Our parks actually do get crowded. On weekend afternoons it's hard to find a seat in the playgrounds. The ballfields and the mini-pool are very well used.

I've only been to Boston a few times, but I remember that the path along the Charles River was full of people strolling, not just cutting through.

So by that measure, our parks are indeed crowded.