FRESH KILLS, Staten Island

Forgotten NY correspondent

Today we visit Staten Island to take a tour of the Fresh Kills Landfill.  Well, that’s what many of us knew it as growing up.  But now it’s on its way to become a 2,200 acre park – second in size only to Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.

The park is located at the confluence of Main Creek and Richmond Creek and consists of 4 mounds containing decomposing waste – North Park, South Park, East Park and West Park.  The community of Travis is to the north, New Springville is to the east, Arden Heights is to the south and the Arthur Kill is to the west.

Here is a timeline of Fresh Kills, as provided by the Parks Dept:

1914: Fresh Kills is mostly a low-lying salt marsh

1934: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the City must stop ocean dumping

1948: Fresh Kills Landfill established by Robert Moses and the City of New York.  When opened it was meant to be a temporary, 3-year solution.

1985: Fresh Kills becomes NYC’s only municipal landfill as all others close

2001: Last barge of trash delivered; international design competition for park design held

2001: Landfill temporarily reopened to accept 9/11 debris

2006: The City of New York releases Master Plan for Fresh Kills Park

2010: Last batch of 9/11 debris sifted for human remains

2040: Full build out of Fresh Kills Park projected.

I paid a call to the former dump afterreserving a tour space with the NYC Parks Department.  We met at the park-and-ride known as Eltingville Transit Center, and boarded a bus that took us to the tops of the mounds of decomposing waste.  The highest point in the park is 200 feet above sea level.  (That’s a lot of trash!)

“While the full build out will continue in phases for the next 30 years, development over the next several years will focus on providing public access to the interior of the site and showcasing the unusual combination of natural and engineered beauty.” – NYC Parks Department.  The site will be opened to the public in phases.

When completed, the habitats found here will include saltwater and freshwater marshes, mud flats, upland grass fields, scrubland, meadows and woodlands.  Activities that will be offered here include cross country skiing, environmental education, promenade and barge gardens, bridle trails, multiuse paths and canoe and kayak launches.  There is also a possibility that a wind farm may be sited here to provide energy.

Schematic of the Fresh Kills Park plan

Christina is the President of the Newtown Historical Society and a Forgotten NY correspondent.

Photographed July 2010; page completed July 19.

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