A Jamaica park that recently underwent a $2.2 million makeover is a "disaster" plagued by litter and filled with homeless people, locals say, but the Parks Department thinks the green space is clean enough.
The 11-acre Rufus King Park in downtown Jamaica, which is home to Rufus King Manor, is one of the most heavily used in the neighborhood that hosts numerous community events.
Last year, as part of the city's Jamaica Now Action Plan seeking to revitalize the once-overlooked area, a new lawn, trees and shrubs were planted, the park's pathways were repaved, a new spray shower was installed, and its gazebo was restored.
Locals said that while they hoped the overhaul would the improve park's conditions, trash continues to cover its lawns.
“It’s such a beautiful park, it has so much potential, but when you come there you see trash everywhere,” said Phil Lobato, 42, a registered nurse who works in downtown Jamaica and passes by the park every day.
“I’m absolutely appalled by what I see,” he said, adding that the park stays cleaner in the winter, "but when spring hits, it’s a disaster there."
The Parks Department said it has assigned two employees to the park who "maintain the grounds and pick up litter every day," according to agency spokeswoman Meghan Lalor. "Parks Enforcement routinely patrols the park to enforce Parks rules."
She also noted that when the green space was inspected through the Parks Inspection Program on March 7, it “was given an acceptable rating for cleanliness.”
But during a visit to the park on Thursday, about a dozen apparently homeless men could be seen in the park, with several of them sitting on benches while others slept on the grass and in the park’s pavilion. Litter could also be seen strewn about the green space.