Bklyn’s new state park named for pioneering African-American pol

Bklyn’s new state park named for pioneering African-American pol
New York State Governor’s Office

Brookyn’s biggest state park will be named for legendary Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the nation’s first black, female congresswoman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week.

The state will invest $20 million — up from $15 million announced at the beginning of this year — in the new 407-acre Shirley Chisholm State Park, the governor announced on Sept. 5.

The park will open as part of Cuomo’s $1.4-billion health initiative Vital Brooklyn, and honor the legacy of Chisholm, who won her congressional seat in 1968, ran for president four years later and fought for the health and well-being of her most disadvantaged constituents throughout her time in office, according to the governor.

“Shirley Chisholm led the fight to improve the health and wellness of underserved communities that we carry on today with the Vital Brooklyn initiative, and we are proudly naming this park after her in admiration for the example of leadership and devotion she set for all of us,” he said.

The vast green space will be the largest state park in all five boroughs and will stretch across the former Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue landfill sites adjacent to East New York.

The largest park in the borough will remain the city-owned Marine Park, at 530 acres.

Connector: A bridge between the two former landfill sites could be part of the new Shirley Chisholm State Park.
New York State Parks

The first phase of the park will open 3.5 miles of waterfront, providing new access to open space in one of the most underserved areas of the state, according to the governor’s office.

The state will then seek ideas from residents for what should go in the park, with meetings kicking off in the fall of 2019, with the completion of the design process set for 2021.

Proposed features of the new park include an amphitheater for live events, an environmental education center, lawn patios, and a cable car or a connector bridge over the water between the Pennsylvania Avenue and Fountain Avenue properties, according to the governor.

Under an agreement with the National Park Service and the city, New York State Parks will plan, develop, and operate the park in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which will continue to manage the former landfill infrastructure.

Open green spaces are particularly valuable in Brooklyn and can improve the lives of residents, a local pol said at the governor’s announcement on Wednesday.

“As a Brooklyn resident, I know first-hand how hard it can be to find well-maintained green space,” said state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D–East New York). “Parks are more than just a gathering place — they are an opportunity for families to spend quality time, for children and adults to learn, and for people to take advantage of all the great outdoors have to offer. Parks help keep families close, encourage our youth to explore, and provide residents with a place to partake in outdoor recreation. I thank Governor Cuomo for spearheading this initiative and for recognizing the importance of parks in the everyday lives of New Yorkers across the state.”

Open to discussion: The public will be invited to give their input on designs for the park, such as an amphitheater for live events.
New York State Parks

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.