Historic Rufus King Park in Jamaica opens new enforcement station as plans are underway for playground renovation

MCP_000010 Rufus King Park PEP Station RC 10 19 21 mp
City officials cut the ribbon on a new enforcement substation in Jamaica’s Rufus King Park on Oct. 19. (Photo courtesy of NYC Parks/Malcolm Pinckney)

Rufus King Park in Jamaica now has a new permanent Parks Enforcement substation for its patrol officers to report to, as well as a home base for fixed-post maintenance staff and equipment, and an improved comfort station for parkgoers.

The Parks Enforcement Patrol is a team of dedicated officers who preserve and protect parks and public facilities by enforcing NYC Parks rules and regulations, educate the public, respond to the concerns of park patrons and ensure that parks and public spaces are safe and welcoming to all visitors.

Councilman James Gennaro joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, NYC Parks officials and community leaders for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 19, where they announced $4.6 million in funding to reconstruct the playground at the historic park.

King Manor Museum and Park in Jamaica was once home to Rufus King, a distinguished lawyer, statesman and gentleman farmer who lived from 1755 to 1827. The son of a wealthy lumber merchant from Maine, King graduated from Harvard in 1777.

He suspended his law studies to serve in the Revolutionary War in 1778. King served as a member of the Confederation Congress from 1784 to 1787 where he introduced a plan that prevented the spread of slavery to the Northwest Territories. He went on to be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and made his most famous contribution to American history as a framer and signer of the Constitution.

“Rufus King Park is a local treasure. Its meaningful history makes it a wonderful destination for visitors across the country,” Gennaro said. “I am proud to help fund these much-needed improvements to the park, the playground and the King Manor Museum, which will not only make our park safer, but will also help to preserve the legacy of Rufus King and Queens’ role in the anti-slavery movement.”

Gennaro allocated $3.8 million in funding for improvements and reconstruction of the playground, a new Rufus King Park entrance and fence reconstruction, a passive recreation area and an additional $30,000 to King Manor Museum in the park.

Design for the park, including providing accessible, playground renovations, will kick off in the spring with a community scoping meeting. Improvements will include landscaping, new spray showers, lighting, seating and safety surfacing. In addition to the $3.8 million from Gennaro’s office, Mayor Bill de Blasio added $817,000 toward the project.

“Our parks are the anchors of our communities and all Queens families, regardless of neighborhood, deserve nothing less than first-class parks and playgrounds to call their own,” Richards said. “As we recover from the pandemic, fairness and equity must be at the heart of all that we do, including providing accessible, high-quality recreation space for our children. Thank you NYC Parks for your partnership as we make Rufus King Park an even safer and more inviting place for our families.”

The improvements build on other recent upgrades to the park, thanks to $2.8 million in City Council and mayoral funding. A new HVAC system was also installed in June at the King Manor Museum, thanks to $717,000 in funding from the Council, mayor and the borough president’s office.

“Rufus King Park is in the heart of a busy transit hub, vibrant shopping and cultural center in Jamaica,” NYC Parks Queens Borough Commissioner Michael Dockett said. “These improvements will make the very popular and highly trafficked park safer, more welcoming and even more fun. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and Council member Gennaro for funding these important improvements.”

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