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In my last post I told you about an event attended on Saturday the tenth of January at the Queens Museum, which put a spotlight on the topographical relief map of the NYC water system. Despite hurdles offered by MTA and the weather, I somehow made it there from Astoria.

On Sunday the eleventh, a repeat of my journey to the institution, housed in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, was enacted. This time, the Queens Museum was merely the place where a walking tour of the so called Iron Triangle at Willets Point was meeting up, an excursion led by the official Queens Borough Historian – Dr. Jack Eichenbaum. I’ve been lucky enough to know him for a while now, and I’m pretty sure that we met during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial celebrations back in 2009. When I heard that he would be doing this tour, inquiries whether or not I could come along were made and he graciously invited me (and you Q’Stoners) along.

Here’s what we saw along the way – with lots of photos after the jump.

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Skillman Avenue in Long Island City, between Pearson Place and 49th Avenue is a fairly desolate spot. The Sunnyside Yards “Yard A” dominates the northern side of the street. On the other side of the vast rail road complex is Jackson Avenue and the Court Square Subway station, the Arris Lofts, and the brand new Pearson Court Square building with its roof top windmills.

A block south, you’ll find the sewage choked waters of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary, which provided a maritime link to the Degnon Terminal industrial park (which has been discussed in this post). Skillman Avenue forms one of the borders of the Degnon Terminal, and at the corner of Pearson Place and Skillman Avenue – the tracks of the LIRR’s Montauk Cutoff offered locomotive access to the Degnon Terminal railway tracks. This spur is in place to this very day, and there are rails sticking up out of the modern day asphalt which run up elevations to elevated tracks that connected Sunnyside Yard with the LIRR tracks which run along Newtown Creek, through Maspeth and then towards Fresh Pond. If curious about such things – go here.

That’s a short history of the site, and you won’t believe what’s going on here now.

More after the jump…

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The Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, Merrick Marsden Neighbors Association (MMNA), and 596 Acres worked together to establish a permanent community garden on the corner of Foch and Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica. The Merrick Marsden Neighbors Association maintained the space since 1967, but over the summer they almost lost the land when New York City placed liens on the property for back taxes owed. MMNA needed $18,000 to pay off the final tax lien and back taxes to make property free of taxes forever. 596 Acres offered free legal assistance to MMNA and the land was successfully transferred to the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust. The papers were signed, making it official, just last week.

Above is an image from a work day held at the community garden over the summer. The residents plan to start growing food for the community here.

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596 Acres is eyeing a desolate stretch of Astoria right next to the Riker’s Island Bridge for possible community use. Folks started organizing around some empty space on the block, which looks to be half occupied by an industrial facility and half vacant and heavily overgrown. The city does have some jurisdiction over the area, and has reported that “If there is a community need being fulfilled, and if sponsored by a local group, then it is possible that they will approve a new project for the community on their land.” Sounds exciting! If you’re interested in organizing around this potential community space, go right here. GMAP UPDATE: The above photo has been updated to reflect the exact parcel on this block residents are organizing around. This lot is fully vacant, although it is heavily forested.

Photo via OASIS Map

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Permanent development is in the works for a vacant, 80-acre site on the Rockaway Peninsula, an area badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but in the meantime the organization 596 Acres is looking toward interim uses for the land. A few weeks ago, the group led a discussion on potential interim uses for these empty lots in the Arverne East/Edgemere neighborhood — all those green dots in the map above are public vacant space. Proposals for the lots include a food fest, a view tower for star gazing, a farmers market, and a ski trail. See the details of each proposal here. More permanent development will take time for this site; the city will announce the winners of a sustainable, storm-resistant development competition on October 24th. If you’d like to offer feedback on the interim proposals at the Arverne East site, leave them here. Ideas submitted before September 20th will be shared with the design teams for consideration as they prepare their Phase II proposals.

Map via 549 Acres