NYC Parks announces $21 million to develop Gwen Ifill Park in Jamaica

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Southeast Queens community leaders join city officials to announce a $21 million project to develop Gwen Ifill Park in Jamaica. (Photo by NYC Parks/Daniel Avila)

The city announced a $21 million allocation from Mayor Bill de Blasio to develop Gwen Ifill Park into a community green space in Jamaica.

Located in the legendary newswoman’s childhood neighborhood, the park is one of 28 park spaces recently named in honor of the Black experience in New York City.

A community scoping meeting was recently held with southeast Queens residents to officially kick off the design phase of the project. Participants were encouraged to share their vision for the site, identify desired amenities, and discuss programming preferences.

NYC Parks’ Community Input Meetings are designed to provide residents an understanding of how the planning process can help public spaces better serve surrounding neighborhoods.

“Thanks to Mayor de Blasio, we will be able to create a beautiful new park for fitness, recreation and respite,” NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Margaret Nelson said. “Upon completion, the new Gwen Ifill Park will serve as a place of remembrance of her incredible talents and leadership in the field of journalism.”

Gwen Ifill Park in Jamaica. (Photo by NYC Parks/Daniel Avila)

Ifill was born and raised in Jamaica and was a leading journalist, television broadcaster and author. She was the first African-American woman to anchor a nationally televised U.S. public affairs program, “Washington Week in Review.” Later, she quo-anchored “PBS NewsHour.”

“Gwen Ifill was a favorite daughter of Queens, and her many accomplishments in journalism show us there are no limits to what we can achieve,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “This $21 million project to develop Gwen Ifill Park will turn it into a neighborhood jewel that will greatly benefit the people of southeast Queens and do justice to Gwen’s memory. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for allocating this funding, which will help ensure that Gwen’s legacy of journalistic excellence will never be forgotten.”

The former Railroad Park took its name from the LIRR whose tracks form the area’s southwest boundary. In 1962, the city of New York acquired the property from the Rochdale village limited-profit housing project and expanded the site through land acquired through condemnation the following year.

Community advocates including The Railroad Park Garden Club and the local Boy Scout troop often work together to assist Parks in the landscaping of the green space. Both groups work to raise awareness within the community of the park’s ecological benefits and natural resources.

Last June, NYC Parks pledged to continue to demonstrate how it stands in solidarity with the Black community in its fight to combat systemic racism.

Since then, the agency has named 28 park spaces, including Gwen Ifill Park, in honor of the Black experience to help acknowledge the legacies of these Black Americans, encourage discourse about their contributions, and work to make the park system more diverse and reflective of the people it serves.

Councilman I. Daneek Miller. (Photo by NYC Parks/Daniel Avila)

“We are incredibly excited for this investment in Gwen Ifill Park and thank Mayor de Blasio for his support of southeast Queens green space and infrastructure,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “In the past two years alone, we have been able to allocate nearly $130 million to local parks and recreation, a great benefit to the physical and mental health of district residents. We look forward to discourse and engagement with the community as feedback is collected and this project moves forward.”