It’s full steam ahead for the streetcar.
The Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, a not-for-profit organization created to support the city’s efforts to build the modern streetcar, launched an extensive website on Thursday, May 12, dedicated to the BQX — a streetcar that would stretch along the waterfront for 16 miles between Sunset Park and Astoria, Queens.
The site serves as a go-to forum where New Yorkers can learn everything about the proposal, including routes, statistics, maps, renderings and updates on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $2.5 billion proposal.
“The Friends of the BQX exists to make sure that this investment in a corridor historically underserved by transit will be as equitable, impactful and resilient as possible,” said Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of the group, who has led this effort. “We are at the beginning of an intensive public input process and it’s our mission to ensure that the diversity of stakeholders who want and need better transportation choices in this fast-growing corridor have a voice in how the BQX is planned.”
The Friends also announced its inaugural Board of Directors. The 25 members include Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball; President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Carlo Scissura; and Michelle De la Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee.
Bishop Mitchell Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound, mentioned benefits the project would bring for low-income families. “For the 40,000 NYCHA tenants and other low-income residents in Brooklyn and Queens that call communities along the East River waterfront home, the BQX is poised to be a vital lifeline to increased job opportunities,” he said.
“The BQX addresses that problem head-on by connecting our community to thousands of job opportunities along the waterfront, which would significantly improve the quality of life for Red Hook residents,” added Jill Eisenhard, executive director of the Red Hook Initiative.
“There are thousands of jobs being created along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront in innovation hubs, like the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, Long Island City and Sunset Park,” said President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Co-Chair of Friends of the BQX Tucker Reed, when discussing employment potential
But not everyone is unreservedly enthusiastic. Earlier this month, Sunset Park residents voiced their concerns on the proposal after a meeting hosted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation at Community Board 7.
“The number one concern is the working waterfront,” said Community Board 7 member Michael Gsovski. “When the condo towers come up, that’s what happened to Williamsburg, to Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn. When all this stuff starts like high rise development, it changes the economic eco-system and businesses start catering to the high income people.”
To learn more about the BQX, visit www.bqx.nyc.