LATEST PAPER
57° Good Morning
57° Good Morning
Lifestyle

Freshkills Park: Staten Island's largest landfill transitions into a park

At the western end of Staten Island, the city is creating its largest park in over 100 years. Aside from the massive size (2,200 acres--three times the size of Central Park), Freshkills Park stands out for other reasons: It was once the site of the world's largest landfill (and rumored to be one of only two manmade structures visible from space).

Fresh Kills Landfill opened in 1948 in a largely undeveloped part of Staten Island. By 1955, it was the largest landfill in the world. State law passed in 1996 called for the landfill to stop receiving solid waste no later than December 31, 2001. The last garbage barge dropped off its final shipment on March 22, 2001, although a special exception was made after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when wreckage from the World Trade Center was delivered there.

Since 2001, the landfill has been undergoing the transformation to a park--the largest landfill-to-park transformation in the world. In fact, it is so large that it is comprised of five parks, the first of which opened in 2012 and is known as Schmul Park.

Freshkills Park opens once a year for a "Sneak Peak." We received our own tour of the North Park, 21 acres with spectacular views that will one day be the site of New Springville Greenway, a 3.3-mile pedestrian and bicycle path along Richmond Avenue and the east edge of the Park.

Waterways

The completed park will be home to many
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

The completed park will be home to many waterfront activities, including kayaking and canoeing; there will be an esplanade along Creek Landing, where Main Creek and Fresh Kill meet.

Ex-salt holding lot

Before becoming a landfill, Fresh Kills was a
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

Before becoming a landfill, Fresh Kills was a salt marsh. Located in the North Park is a former salt holding lot. The area became the Culture Lot for concerts, food trucks, refreshments, a kayak launch and more during the Sneak Peak on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

North Park

At the summit atop North Park, the elevation
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

At the summit atop North Park, the elevation reaches 150 feet--high enough for 360-degree views. If you look northeast, you can see the Manhattan skyline, including the Freedom Tower and even the Empire State building. Looking northwest, the Goethels Bridge is visible.

Artwork

Staten Island-based tattoo artist Magie Serpica and street
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

Staten Island-based tattoo artist Magie Serpica and street artist Kevin Mahoney have painted murals along the waterfront. At the Sneak Peak in September 2013, they live-painted a mural of the wildlife at the park. At the Sneak Peak in September 2014, they modeled a mural after old-time postcards, reading "Greetings from Freshkills."

Drainage

The Department of Sanitation built this complicated stormwater
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

The Department of Sanitation built this complicated stormwater runoff system to catch, clean and drain rainwater in the park to prevent flooding. During superstorm Sandy, the park protected Staten Island by absorbing a critical part of the storm surge, according to The New York Times.

Greenway construction

The Greenway on the eastern edge of the
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

The Greenway on the eastern edge of the park is currently under construction as a nature education area, with the mound envisioned as being used for recreational uses. The West Park, which is home to the park's largest mound, will have a monument to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Debris from the World Trade Center was transferred to Fresh Kills landfill in the months after the attack.

Flare station

Beauty and quiet aside, there are still remains
Photo Credit: Caroline Linton

Beauty and quiet aside, there are still remains of the landfill days. This flare station is used as a backup safety measure. Landfill gas, composed of methane, carbon dioxide, water and other organic compounds, is generated through the decomposition of solid waste. According to the Parks Department, gas recovery and sale will continue at Freshkills until it is no longer economically viable, and then it will be burned off at the flare station.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Things to Do Photos & Videos