Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced a plan to create a 407-acre state park on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, which would be the largest state park in New York City. As a part of the $1.4 billion “Vital Brooklyn” initiative, the park would add much-needed green space in the Central Brooklyn neighborhood, an area the governor has described as a “park desert.” Formerly the site of two landfills, the open space will be converted into parkland with opportunities for biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, as well as educational facilities and an amphitheater.
Never before open to the public, the 407-acre site formerly held the Pennsylvania Avenue Landfill and the Fountain Avenue Landfill, both of which were in operation until 1983. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection began a $235 million remediation of the site in 2002, which included an installation of an impermeable cap, as well as spreading 1.2 million cubic yards of clean soil and planting more than 35,000 trees and shrubs.
Following a final agreement between the state and the National Park Service, the first phase of the project will begin this year. Phase one will be funded by a $15 million state investment in order to open the restored property and is expected to fully open in 2019. Later phases will include the construction of connecting bridges between the two sites, the educational facilities and the amphitheater.
“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,” Cuomo said in a press release. “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.”
Last March, Cuomo announced his “Vital Brooklyn” initiative, aimed at transforming the Central Brooklyn region by increasing access to open space, healthy food and healthcare services. The state found 84 percent of residents in this area have gone without adequate physical activity in the last month alone, 30 percent higher than the rest of the state.
To ensure Central Brooklynites have access to recreational amenities and nature, Vital Brooklyn wants every neighborhood to be within a ten-minute walk of green space and athletic facilities. Amenities at over a dozen community gardens and schools yards will be improved. Roughly $140 million of the $1.4 billion initiative will be allocated for open space and recreation.
The city supports the park planned for the Jamaica Bay waterfront and will work with the state on this project. Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Alicia Glen, said: “It’s a monumental undertaking to close and cap a landfill, and transform it into beautiful open space and restored wetlands. The City proudly supports this endeavor.”