Last Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo made an announcement that should have Brooklyn residents elated. The land along Jamaica Bay, which has been the site of two decommissioned city landfills, will be converted into a 407-acre state park. As reported by the NY Daily News, Mr. Cuomo said the park will become an oasis for the underserved area of the state. Central Brooklyn residents will be able to take leisurely walks or hikes, enjoy bike riding, fishing and kayaking. Clearing the path for the park will begin as soon as final approval is received from the National Park Service. “This new state park will be a treasure in the heart of Brooklyn, offering hundreds of acres of beautiful parkland on the shores of Jamaica Bay,” said Gov. Cuomo. “We are committed to ensuring every New Yorker can access the recreational, health and community benefits of open space, and this park will open new doors to wellness for New Yorkers who need it most.”
The site, owned by the National Park Service since 1974, contains the landfills which the city ceased operation of in 1983. In the year 2002, the city initiated a seven-year, $235 million project to remediate the site. The old landfills were capped, over 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil were brought in and 35,000 trees and shrubs were planted. The community has long been anticipated the opening of the site for public use. “For generations, the residents of central Brooklyn have lacked access to their waterfront and open spaces,” said Thomas Secunda, chairman of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. This “marks a major milestone in the decades-long effort to turn these former landfills into a wonderful new park,” he continued.
The new park, which is slated to fully open in 2019, will cost New York State $15 million in its first phase. The park will be the responsibility of the state, though it is still owned by the federal government, and the city will continue to operate a methane-capture operation there. Future phases of the project, may include building a connecting bridge between the two sites, adding dedicated environmental education facilities and the construction of an amphitheater, announced Cuomo.
Rose Harvey, the State Parks Commissioner, said her agency “is excited by the opportunity to serve these traditionally park-poor neighborhoods in Brooklyn. A natural preserve in the backyard of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million people features open rolling hills and 3.5 miles of waterfront, connecting city and nature, and asphalt to meadows.”
By: Ilana Siyance