On September 5, 2018, it was announced that the largest state park in New York City will fully open in Brooklyn in the summer of 2019.
The 407-acre site, which has never been open to the public, includes the former Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and Fountain Avenue Landfill, which were operated by NYC Department of Sanitation from 1956-1983 and deeded to the National Park Service as part of Gateway National Recreation Area in 1974. In 2002, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection began a $235 million site remediation that included the installation of an impermeable cap and below-ground barrier to support future use.
In addition, more than 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil, up to four feet deep, was spread across the site and more than 35,000 trees and shrubs were planted. The addition of prairie grass and native plantings prevents erosion and has created a diverse ecosystem of more than 400 acres of coastal meadows, wetlands, and woodlands that have attracted local wildlife. The full remediation and ecological restoration of the site was completed with significant community input in 2009.
The new 407-acre park will be named in honor of Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. “Our work to revitalize Brooklyn continues with a transformational new state park named in honor of one of the greatest women in New York State history,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
The park is a signature project under the Governor’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative and complements the state’s efforts to build 34 new or improved pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a 10-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident.
Assembly Member Maritza Davila said, “Since he took office, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to helping revitalize our community. While others talked the talk, Governor Cuomo walked the walk. Today’s announcement is no different, as the Governor is providing our community with New York City’s largest State Park. I commend Governor Cuomo for this initiative that will benefit all residents of Central Brooklyn, young and old.”
The first phase of the park, which will be complete next summer when the park opens full-time, seven days a week, will feature 10 miles of trails for hiking and biking, including bike connector paths that will ultimately join the Pennsylvania and Fountain Avenue properties, waterfront access for kayaking, pop-up environmental education, a pier with a shade structure, picnic areas, concessions, comfort facilities, welcome and wayfinding signage and a park office.
New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo said, “I am thrilled at today’s announcement by Governor Andrew Cuomo of Shirley Chisholm State Park, which is set to open in 2019 and will be the largest state park in New York City. Shirley Chisholm is a personal she-ro of mine, and given how much she provided to the people of Brooklyn over the course of her life, I am proud that we are able to honor her legacy with this amazing green space that will continue to enrich the lives of our children, families, and communities for generations to come!”
Earlier last month, as the next step of the comprehensive initiative, Governor Cuomo announced new actions to increase access to nutritious foods and address chronic food insecurity and health disparities in Central Brooklyn communities. The Governor also announced a $1.825 million investment in new mobile markets, food insecurity screening for seniors, youth run farmers’ markets, community gardens, and a food distribution hub siting study, to help ensure local communities have the ability to purchase fresh, local foods, and have the support they need for healthier lifestyles.
Phase 1 of the park is funded by a state investment of up to $20 million to open the ecologically restored property and make 3.5 miles of waterfront available to provide crucial new open space access in one of the most underserved areas of the state. Public meetings will begin in the fall of 2019 for the design of Phase 2; which will be completed in 2020 and 2021. Based on community input, Phase 2 could feature a new amphitheater for live events, environmental education center, lawn patios and a cable ferry or a connector bridge over the water which will link the Pennsylvania and Fountain Properties.
Under the agreement with the National Park Service and the City of New York, New York State Parks will plan, develop, open and operate the public park in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which will continue to manage the former landfill infrastructure.
The Brooklyn park will be the second state park opened by Governor Cuomo in New York City. Governor Cuomo dedicated Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in 2012. State Parks operates seven state parks throughout the five boroughs of NYC, including Bayswater Point State Park and Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens, East River State Park in Brooklyn, Clay Pit Ponds State Park in Staten Island, Riverbank State Park in Manhattan, and Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx. The Governor also opened Buffalo Harbor State Park in 2015 and Hallock State Park Preserve on Long Island last year.
“Our state parks are community treasures, and this new park transforms what was once landfill into exquisite open space, waterfront access and outdoor recreation for Brooklyn,” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “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.”
The new park is part of the Governor’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative. In August of 2018, Governor Cuomo announced New York State Homes and Community Renewal will finance 1,000 affordable homes for seniors on underutilized land owned by the New York City Housing Authority in Central Brooklyn.
In April, Governor Cuomo launched phase two of Vital Brooklyn and announced five RFPs to construct more than 2,000 affordable homes and advance the initiative’s $563 million commitment to build 3,000 units of affordable housing in Central Brooklyn. Earlier this summer, Governor Cuomo announced a $3.1 million investment to renovate and transform eight community gardens and deliver a much-needed direct water connection to 14 others, to be completed by fall of 2019. Prior to that, the Governor also announced flagship ambulatory care sites and partnerships with six Brooklyn-based federally qualified health centers to form the foundation of its $210 million, 32-site ambulatory care network.
All renderings courtesy of New York State Parks.