Located on Cross Bay Boulevard between East Fourth and Sixth Roads in Broad Channel, this park honors Broad Channel’s war veterans, especially George Riekers (1921-1996) who worked for the advancement of Broad Channel and the establishment of this park.
A monumental boulder in the park has affixed to it a Veterans of Foreign Wars plaque honoring Broad Channel soldiers who were killed in combat. Originally named Broad Channel Memorial Park, the property was renamed by Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern in 1998. Veterans Park features a triangular grassy mall, London planetrees and Callery pear trees.
Broad Channel, on Big Egg Marsh, is the only inhabited island in Jamaica Bay. The island is approximately one mile long and four blocks wide. Prior to European settlement, the Jameco and Canarsie Native Americans frequented the island. Broad Channel remained a parcel within the Town of Jamaica until the consolidation of New York City in 1898. In 1915, the city leased the island to the Broad Channel Corporation, which in turn leased properties for the development of summer bungalows and houses. The City retained ownership of the land, and not until 1982 did Broad Channel residents get the right to purchase the property upon which their residences rest.
The park’s flagpole has a granite monument at its base dedicated to Broad Channel resident, veteran, and community activist George Riekers. As president of the Broad Channel Civic Association and United Community Organization, he was indispensable in negotiating the 1982 purchase of Broad Channel land from the City. Riekers joined the Army in January 1940, served throughout World War II, and was discharged in October 1945. He attained the rank of Sergeant, earning two Battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Medal, and the European, African, Middle Eastern Service Medal.
Riekers brought Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 260 to Broad Channel. He served as its Commander several times, organizing food handouts and annual parades. Riekers also served American Legion Post 1404. As a member of Community Board 14, Riekers promoted the initiative that resulted in the installation of sewers in Broad Channel. In addition, he acted as a substitute pastor and Sunday school teacher for Christ Presbyterian Church by the Sea.