Last Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the first phase of the Shirley Chisholm State Park, a 407-acre green space along the shores of Jamaica Bay, has been completed.
“Today we add another gem to our treasure trove of state parks, transforming what was once a blemish on the South Brooklyn community into exquisite open space,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The $20 million first phase provides ten miles of marked trails for hiking and biking. A pier along Pennsylvania Avenue can be used for picnicking, fishing and water access.
According to the state, environmental educators will offer programs for children who visit the state park. Bike New York will also form the Shirley Chisholm State Park Bike Library, offering free loaner bikes to visitors.
The state park is named after Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman and the first black woman to run for president. Inside the park is a mural honoring Chisholm created by Brooklyn artist Danielle Mastrion.
“Shirley Chisholm fought to improve the health and wellness of underserved communities, a legacy we are carrying on through the Vital Brooklyn Initiative,” Cuomo said, “so we are proud to dedicate this park in memory of her leadership and accomplishments.”
The second phase of the project, also $20 million, is currently under design. That will add a new entrance to the park on Fountain Avenue, as well as lawn patios for community gatherings and performances and pop-up environmental education facilities.
That phase is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the site of the park was once operated by the Department of Sanitation from 1956 to 1983. After the landfills closed, the city deeded the land to the National Park Service.
The Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy then funded the conceptual plan to create a new park.
Under an agreement with the city and the National Park Service, New York State Parks is developing the 407-acre park with the Department of the Interior and city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which will continue to manage the former landfill infrastructure.
“No longer will we need to travel miles away to enjoy activities on the water,” State Senator Roxanne Persaud said in a statement. “We now have a state of the art park in our backyard.”