But then he read the EDC’s reports, and spent some time talking to the staff. Last year, he decided to join the Friends of the BQX as deputy director.
Today, he serves as the advocacy group’s executive director.
“Right now in New York City, we’re at a moment when we need to start thinking about the future and how we move people not only efficiently, but equitably as well,” Torres said. “That’s what drew me to the project.”
The Brooklyn resident said he believes most people like the idea of having a city-owned and operated mode of mass transit.
He’s also excited about the idea of serving areas that have been “historically ignored by city planners,” including several public housing developments along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront.
Torres acknowledges “legitimate concerns” about the concerns of the BQX, especially the idea that building a transit project this big opens up the doors for further displacement and gentrification.
But he believes with the new tenant laws in place, it’s a good time to invest in neighborhoods by adding more transit.
As the advocacy group pushing the light rail project, Friends of the BQX is open to hearing both support and concerns about the project, Torres said.
“When you’re dealing with a project this big, you need somebody to help absorb the energy from the public in a way that sometimes the city can’t do,” he said.
As the city continues to conduct outreach before the project undergoes environmental review, Torres said he thinks city officials are “doing awesome” moving the BQX along.
“We’ve seen the city pick up some steam again,” he said. “I think it’s exciting.”