As part of City Hall In Your Borough, NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Margaret Nelson joined Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick, Reverend Phil Craig of Greater Springfield Community Church, and community members to announce a $21 million allocation from Mayor de Blasio to develop Gwen Ifill Park into a community greenspace in Jamaica, Queens. Located in Ifill’s childhood neighborhood, the park is one of 28 park spaces recently named in honor of the Black experience in New York City.
“We’re thrilled to announce this significant investment into Gwen Ifill Park,” said NYC Parks Acting Commissioner Margaret Nelson. “Thanks to Mayor de Blasio, we will be able to create a beautiful new park for fitness, recreation, and respite. 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 was a favorite daughter of Jamaica, Queens, and her many accomplishments in journalism show us there are no limits to what we can achieve,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “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.”
“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. In the past two years alone, we’ve been able to allocate nearly $130 million to local parks and recreation, a great benefit to the physical and mental health of district residents,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller. “We are looking forward to discourse and engagement with the community as feedback is collected and this project moves forward.”
Last week, a community scoping meeting was held with local residents to officially kick off the design phase of the project. Participants were encouraged to share their visions 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.
Last June, 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 parks 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.
Gwen Ifill was born in Jamaica, Queens, 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 co-anchored PBS NewsHour.
The former Railroad Park took its name from the Long Island Railroad (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 a local Boy Scout troop often work together to assist Parks in the landscaping of the park. Both groups work to raise awareness within the community of the park’s ecological benefits and natural resources.
Gwen Ifill Park is located at 128-12 174th Place in jamaica, Queens, New York.