First section of landfill-turned-park project opens at Staten Island’s Freshkills Park
Photo Credit: Benny Polatseck | Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
On the site of what once was the world’s biggest landfill, New York City’s second-largest park is growing. On Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams announced the opening of the first public section of the new Freshkills Park on Staten Island. The 21-acre North Park area features new walking and cycling paths, an overlook deck, a bird-viewing tower, and connections to the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge.
The North Park offers stunning views of the Main Creek and connects to the adjacent wildlife refuge. Visitors will be able to walk along seven acres of native seed plots that are operated by NYC Parks’ Greenbelt Native Plant Center, according to a press release.
The park has attracted birds like ospreys, cormorants, grasshopper sparrows, and even endangered species like sedge wrens, according to the New York Times.
Environmental sustainability is a key component of the broader project and a model of land reuse. The park’s parking lot lighting and restroom building run on solar energy, while a new composting restroom is designed to convert waste into compost which then can be used to enrich soil.
“I vowed before taking office that under an Adams administration, Staten Island would no longer be the forgotten borough – and with today’s opening of the first section of Freshkills Park, we continue to deliver on that promise by providing Staten Islanders with another place to exercise, breathe fresh air, and be outside,” Adams said.
“What was once an eyesore is now becoming a world-class park that will serve the residents of this borough for generations to come, and that will, once fully complete, become the second largest park within the five boroughs. Today’s announcement is just another way that we are creating an environment that is better for our wildlife, better for New Yorkers, and better for our planet.”
Designed by James Corner Field Operations, the team behind the High Line and Domino Park, Freshkills Park will be the largest park developed by the city in over a century. At 2,200 acres, the area is nearly three times the size of Central Park with a vastly more diverse ecosystem.
The park was once the site of the Fresh Kills landfill, the largest landfill in the world before it closed in 2001. Since it closed, layers of trash have been covered with soil and infrastructure and the area has become a hotspot for wildlife, science, education, art, and recreation, according to the Freshkills Park Alliance, a nonprofit advocating for the project.
In 2014, Eloise Hirsh, the park’s administrator, told 6sqft since the landfill closed, “the wildlife has returned, and there are all kinds of birds, deer, groundhogs, and foxes.” A number of rare insects have also returned to the site.
In August 2017, the city awarded a $22.9 million contract for the construction of the first section of Freshkills Park, led by Lomma Construction Corp.
Freshkills Park will continue to open in phases, with the entire park expected to be completed in 2036. The South Park Anchor Park project is currently in design, with plans for multipurpose fields and trails adjacent to Owl Hollow, according to the Alliance.