Crowley Steps Down from Friends of the QNS Board

Former New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has stepped down from her position as chairperson of the board of Friends of the QNS, a nonprofit organization that she founded to advocate for expanded commuter rail-based transit across the borough.

Crowley said her decision to step down was made in order to focus fully on her candidacy for New York State Senate District 17.

“It has been an honor to serve as the chair of Friends of the QNS,” Crowley said.

The “QNS” proposal was introduced by Crowley to improve transit within her former Council district. Specifically, the plan sought to revive the former Lower Montauk rail line, which stretches nine miles from Hunters Point in Long Island City, through central Queens neighborhoods including Middle Village, Glendale, and Ridgewood, to the Jamaica hub.

This portion of central Queens is commonly referred to as one of the City’s “transit deserts,” since no passenger rail currently serves many of these neighborhoods.

In a 2018 report from the Department of Transportation, it was confirmed that the defunct rail line could be converted to include passenger service at a fraction of the cost of other major expansion projects like Manhattan’s 2nd Avenue Subway.

The New York State Senate district seat that Crowley is currently running for would include a vast majority of the former Lower Montauk Line within its boundaries. It was recently created by state lawmakers following the 2020 Census and will include Glendale, Maspeth, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Woodhaven, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Ozone Park, and Greenpoint in Brooklyn within its boundaries.

But while Crowley is stepping down from her position as the board’s chair, she said she vows to continue to advocate not only for the QNS rail but for a greenway along the QNS line, if elected.

“Queens has been growing at a tremendous pace, especially Long Island City,” Crowley said. “For this borough to keep up with its growth, we need to provide better transit to our residents. It’s not ambitious, it’s common sense.”

This proposal to restore the former commuter rail is similar to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 14-mile IBX plan, which seeks to add a train line from Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to Woodside, Queens.

Both use existing, underused train rights-of-way, converting them to passenger service from strictly freight service.

Crowley also indicated that she would work to include a dedicated bike lane running parallel to QNS, because “an intolerable” number of bicycle accidents and fatalities have been occurring in recent years.

“If we want people to use alternative transportation, we want them to feel safe as they do so. A slightly revised QNS ‘rail and trail’ plan would help that goal,” Crowley said.

Denise Keehan-Smith, former chairperson of Community Board 2, will replace Crowley as the new chairperson of the Friends of QNS. Keehan-Smith promises to continue the hard work that Crowley started and will also advocate adding a bike lane to the proposal. The organization also hired a senior strategist to help assist with the group’s expanding workload.

“I shall be forever grateful to [Crowley] for serving as the founder and chair of our organization,” Thomas Mituzas, a Blissville resident and QNS board member, said. “She brought to the forefront the need for a new commuter line for the many living in the transportation desert of Queens.”

Felder launches campaign

By Evan Triantafilidis

Ethan Felder is running for New York State Assembly District 28, which includes Rego Park, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Forest Hills.

Ethan Felder, a labor lawyer from Forest Hills, has announced his campaign for the State’s 28th Assembly District.

The seat currently held by 17-year incumbent Andrew Hevesi represents Glendale, Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, Ridgewood, Rego Park, Maspeth, Middle Village, Elmhurst and Forest Hills.

Over 50 people gathered at Macdonald Park in Forest Hills on March 6, for Felder’s campaign kickoff event, where he claimed that the district is in a “moment of unease.”

“Hate and violence against people and their communities have left many feeling unsafe, unheard and unwanted,” Felder said. “The answer is not detachment, condescension and empty political posturing. Complacency in these times just won’t do. It’s time to turn the page. It’s a moment where true solidarity must be twinned with sensibility, not ideological dogma. We can have public safety and stand for dignity for all people.”

Felder’s platform includes public safety, quality education and economic dignity.

He has been outspoken against the current plan for a jail being placed in Kew Gardens, as well as being in favor of raising the minimum wage to $18 per hour.

The lifelong Queens resident also promotes building trust with local police precincts, amid trends of hate crimes on the streets and in subway stations.

“Many in the community are concerned about rising crime and hate,” Felder said. “I am too. Elected officials in Albany have lost their way. People are tired of talk. It’s time for action and fresh energy.”

Showing support at the campaign launch were Monica Cruz, a spokesperson for the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sylvia Martina, a Lefrak City tenant and Fahad Solaiman from the Jackson Heights Bangladeshi Business Association.

Felder, a union labor lawyer at 32BJ SEIU, has served on his local Community Board 6 for six years. In 2018, he represented the tenants of LeFrak City in the fight for voting rights.

“It’s always been about service,” Felder said. “It’s what led me to represent the voters of Lefrak City pro bono when the voting rights of 6,000 people were suppressed by the Board of Elections. It’s why I rallied the community against antisemitism, anti-Asian hate and for Black Lives.”

Solaiman added, “I know him as a man who always thinks about everyone. We need people like him to talk for us, to talk for the community.”

Felder attended Cornell University for his bachelor’s degree in government and later attended Washington University in St. Louis for his MBA and doctorate in law. He is a graduate of Townsend Harris High School.

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