Outrage broke out when New York State announced in early January that Williamsburg’s Marsha P Johnson State Park would close for six months, leaving locals without a beloved space for fresh air along the East River.
Immediately after the abrupt closing, Assemblymember Emily Gallagher penned a letter to New York State Parks, urging for the construction project closing the park to be halted, so residents could enjoy the area.
Additionally, a petition on Change.org called for keeping Marsha P. Johnson State Park 100% open during New York’s Covid-19 State of Emergency. As the petition states, “Closing a public park during a pandemic doesn’t honor the legacy of Marsha P. Johnson, an activist for queer liberation who fought in the Stonewall Uprising. An AIDS activist and occasional sex worker, Johnson faced frequent harassment by the police. Instead, we might pay tribute to her incredible life by repealing the state’s ‘Walking While Trans’ Ban, decriminalizing sex work, and securing healthcare for all.”
While none of the latter has taken place, Marsha P Johnson State Park did reopen on January 26! The park opened its northern gates to allow neighbors to enjoy the area, construction sounds and all.
“Marsha P. Johnson State Park is open! Please enter the park from the north side (via Bushwick Inlet Park). The North lawn, picnic area, waterfront and dog run are all open as usual. Everyone can enjoy the park and see the renovations in progress!” The park’s Facebook account posted on Tuesday morning.
The $14 million improvement project is still slated to continue on schedule (though when does construction ever function as scheduled in New York City), while allowing neighbors to use their tax-funded public space.