Largest state park in New York City will fully open in Brooklyn

New 407-Acre State Park Along Jamaica Bay to be Named Shirley Chisholm State Park – View Renderings Here

Community Input Will Inform Park Features, Including Bike Trails, Waterfront Access and Opportunities for Environmental Education

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the largest state park in New York City will fully open in Brooklyn in the summer of 2019. The new 407-acre park will be named in honor of Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn-born trailblazer who was the first African American Congresswoman, as well as the first woman and African American to run for President. The park is a signature project under the Governor’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative and complements the state’s efforts to build 34 new or improved pocket parks, community gardens, playgrounds and recreation centers within a 10-minute walk for every Central Brooklyn resident. More information is available here.

VIDEO of the Governor’s remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

B-ROLL of the event is available on YouTube here.

AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is below:

Well, well, well, what a different day. First to Rose Harvey, this is an example of what you can do when you don’t know why you can’t do it, right? This property has sat here for years. Nothing happened with it. Federal government was in control of it, the city was involved, it was a whole bureaucratic tangle. And we had a vision, we had an idea, and we made it happen. And that’s Rose Harvey, that’s what our administration’s all about. But she was the quarterback, God bless her. Let’s give her a big round of applause.

Our great Lieutenant Governor, let’s give her a round of applause. Senator Persaud, I love her. Tish James, I love her. I think I may love her more than Senator Persaud. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I love you the same, I love you the same.

My colleagues in the legislature who are going to pay for all of this, they just don’t know it yet. Let’s give them a round of applause. Nikki Lucas, thank you for being here.

Let me make a couple of points because it’s hot. I’ll tell you what I was thinking as I was on my way here. The words, inequality, injustice, insensitivity, insecurity, and inaction. As you’re coming in to this part of Brooklyn, which I know all too well, those are the words that come to my mind. I started my career when I was twenty-something, which was a couple of years ago, building affordable housing off of Pennsylvania Avenue, Snediker, Hinsdale, et cetera. At that time, the community was one of the poorest communities in the state. Today, 40 years later, it’s one of the poorest communities in the state. And that is just wrong. It is just wrong.

Brooklyn, Central Brooklyn, as the Senator points out—one of the most depressed communities in the state. By poverty, health indices, murder, violence, life expectancy. And it hasn’t changed. Fannie Lou Hamer said, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

And there’s something to taking the attitude of saying enough is enough. I’m not going to put up with it anymore. Being in the same place, the same condition for 40 years. Everybody knows it. Nobody is doing anything about it. It’s just not acceptable. It’s not okay. Why are people upset? Why are people angry? Because they’ve been abused. People in Brooklyn have been abused. It’s not that we don’t know what to do. We know what to do. We just haven’t done it because it’s hard and its expensive and because they’re poor people. And if they’re poor people they don’t have power. And if they don’t have power, they can’t make the big institutions move. They can’t make the big gears of government move. Because they’re poor people. They’re not donating to political campaigns. They’re not coming out and they’re not voting. They don’t know the right people. They’re poor people. But government is supposed to be helping them first. That is the point. And we do know how to do it. And we are going to do it right. And that is what Vital Brooklyn is all about. Stop this piecemeal approach as the Senator said, a little bit here, a little bit here, a little bit here.

You want to help a person, you want to help a body, you want to help a community – it’s the same thing. You have to do all of the above. You need decent affordable housing. You need schools that are working. You need recreation. You need health care. You need green markets. You need mentoring. You need a place for kids to go at night so they stay off the street and they stay out of trouble. We know this, we just haven’t done it right. What Vital Brooklyn is saying is, we’re going to do it right. We’re going to go to the poorest place and the most distressed communities and we are going to do it right. We’re going to put all the pieces together, bottom up, empowerment from the communities and we’re going to pay and we’re going to do it right.

My critics say, ‘How dare he spend $1.4 billion on just a few neighborhoods,’ because that’s what it costs to do it right – $1.4 billion. And I say this to them in Italian, I say, ‘I would rather spend $1.4 billion than pay $50,000 for a prison cell and pay for drug treatment and pay for death and pay for emergency rooms.’ We have to change our mentality. We have to pay to prevent rather than to treat after the fact. That’s what Vital Brooklyn is. This park: 407 acres, 10 miles of trails, 3.5 miles of waterfront, kayaking, nature centers, fishing, programs to bring the kids from public schools to do oyster reefs, and to breed clams, and to open their mind to a whole different reality. Literally to look at the horizon, to look across the water, and to dream. To get away from the density, to get away from the noise, to get away from the frenzy to find a little peace. Yes, when you’re doing community development, when you’re helping people, there’s a spiritual component to it, there’s a psychological component to it. Walt Whitman, a Brooklyn boy, said, ‘Keep your face always towards the sunshine, and the shadows will fall behind you.’

Take kids from those communities, bring them here. Let them have a different feeling, let them have a different experience. Let them relax, let them get in touch with Mother Nature. It’s the largest park, largest state park, in New York City. Where should it be? In one of the poorest communities in Brooklyn, that’s where it should be.

Now the name of the park is the Penn Fountain Park, has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? You know, you always know when you’re in Brooklyn. You just always know. It doesn’t matter, you could have your eyes closed, you know when you’re in Brooklyn.

Ok, the Penn Fountain Park does not have a great name to it, that’s true, because we need a name that inspires. We need a name that says to young people, we want you to aspire. We need a name that says to young people, great people have come from the very place that you have come from. We need a model that says, leadership and achievement and service, and we have a beautiful model that grew up just blocks from here. A pioneer, an example of overcoming obstacles, racial obstacles, gender obstacles, class obstacles, and that is Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. And we’ll name this park, a state park, for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. And when Rose Harvey cleans it up and does her magic, we’ll make Brooklyn proud, we’ll make New York proud. Congratulations.

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