Sept. 24, 2021 By Christian Murray
The city will be spending $21 million on a park in Jamaica that has recently been renamed after Gwen Ifill, an award-winning television journalist who died in 2016.
Elected officials held a press conference Thursday to celebrate the announcement at the newly-named Gwen Ifill Park, which was previously called Railroad Park.
Ifill—an African-American woman born in Jamaica, Queens—anchored the PBS program Washington Week in Review from 1999 until her death. She was the first Black woman to anchor a nationally televised public affairs program in the country.
The park, which is a 16.4 acre undeveloped area, is about to see the buildout of some of the greenspace. Last week, residents participated in a scoping meeting to officially kick off the design phase and to share their visions for the site and identify possible amenities.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The renaming of the park and capital upgrade is part of the Parks Dept.’s pledge to demonstrate its solidity with the Black community. Since June 2020, the agency has named 28 park spaces, including Gwen Ifill Park, in honor of the Black experience.
The city aims to 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.