View Full Version : New York's Newest Parkland - Fresh Kills

September 29th, 2003, 07:19 PM


Announcement (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/about/pr092903.html)

Fresh Kills Website (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/fkl/index2.html)

September 30th, 2003, 11:48 AM
September 30, 2003

In Latest Nod to S.I. Voters, Mayor Has Plan for a New Park


Memo to Staten Islanders: If you want to keep getting goodies from City Hall, keep telling pollsters you are unhappy with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It seems to be working.

The mayor, a Republican who cannot afford to lose Staten Island if he wants to win re-election, keeps showing up there bearing new projects. Yesterday he announced that the city is planning to develop a plan to build a park on the site of the recently closed Fresh Kills landfill, which for many decades was the final resting place of trash from the rest of the city.

The announcement offered Mr. Bloomberg the chance to utter what is fast becoming the city government equivalent of the old "Saturday Night Live" mock-newsflash about Francisco Franco's still being dead: "No, we are not going to reopen the landfill."

It also gave the mayor the opportunity to summon bucolic images of what is one of the most sensitive locales for Staten Islanders: a garbage dump site that is so large it can be seen from space.

With lean times for the city, the era of costly pork seems to have passed. But Mr. Bloomberg has found a number of projects for Staten Island that may help him there politically without busting the city budget.

This month alone he has flown to Wisconsin to christen a new Staten Island ferry that was named after the popular former borough president Guy V. Molinari. He inaugurated the new Ocean Breeze fishing pier — which was financed before he took office — by catching (and releasing) a fish. And he announced that the city would seek a developer to build new housing for the elderly.

As Staten Island's borough president, James P. Molinaro, said yesterday at the mayor's news conference, "I like when he comes over, because he makes these great announcements."

For the mayor, the electoral math is simple. Mr. Bloomberg, who carried Staten Island by nearly four to one in 2001, cannot afford to lose the good will of Staten Island voters if he wants to be re-elected in 2005.

But Staten Islanders have been vocally unhappy about his decision to raise property taxes to balance the budget. The mayor has been at loggerheads with James S. Oddo, a Staten Islander who leads the small Republican delegation in the City Council. And there have been murmurs that Representative Vito Fossella of Staten Island is considering challenging the mayor in a Republican primary.

So there was the mayor, with large color photo illustrations on easels at a news conference at the College of Staten Island, talking about the distant future of a garbage dump. One of the illustrations — imagine Monet using Photoshop — showed a creek running through a green belt dotted with red flowers. Another — an Andrew Wyeth-like depiction of "Fresh Kills" — had a cyclist riding through a windswept golden field.

Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that the garbage piled at Fresh Kills is still producing methane gas, so it is not yet safe to cycle over or canoe through. "It will be decades before all of this land is available for people to safely go on it," he said.

But he said that it would be irresponsible not to start planning for the future now, and that parts of the site that were not used as a dump could be reclaimed in a matter of years. To get a start, the city has hired Field Operations, an urban design and landscape architecture firm, to begin the "conceptual design" of a future park, he said.

The mayor said that the $3.38 million planning phase is set to be completed in June 2005.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

April 22nd, 2004, 09:52 PM
The Architects Newspaper http://www.archpaper.com/news/FreshThrills.html

Game Plan

Once the world’s largest landfill, Fresh Kills is on its way to becoming the city’s newest playground. Aric Chen reports on how a concept becomes a master plan.

In late 2002, the landscape architecture and urban design firm Field Operations publicly unveiled its schematic entry, alongside those of five other finalists, in a competition to transform Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill into New York City’s—indeed, the country’s—largest urban park. Back then, the office (which moved to New York from Philadelphia last year) was criticized for describing its plan in obscure language, for example, explaining it as “not a loose metaphor or representation [but] a functioning reality, an autopoietic agent.” However, last month, at a city-sponsored community meeting to review Field Operation’s winning submission, called Lifescape, the enigmatic “lines (threads),” “surfaces (mats),” and “clusters (islands)” gave way to more proletarian propositions as attendees suggested everything from dog runs and boathouses to windmill farms and, oddly, a working cattle ranch for the master plan now being cobbled together for the sprawling, 2,200-acre site.


Held at Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Bulls Head section of Staten Island, the March 24th gathering, also attended by city officials and Field Operations principal James Corner, brought together more than 300 members of citizens groups and enthusiasts of apparently every conceivable inclination. Representatives of local bicycling, tennis, and other amateur sporting interests, nature buffs, and family members of World Trade Center victims chimed in on the activities, amenities, and (yes, another) 9/11 memorial that will eventually occupy the site. Their proposals ranged from the odds-on tennis courts, ball fields, and bike paths to a less-promising horticulture school and a landfill museum that would enshrine the earthmovers that have sculpted Fresh Kills’ topography for the past half century. “The key to the success of Fresh Kills’ transformation is the engagement of the community,” said city planning commissioner Amanda Burden, whose agency is overseeing the master planning process. “A lot of people showed up to the meeting and I was delighted with the range of suggestions.”

Indeed, Corner’s original plan—a collaboration with Princeton architecture dean Stan Allen, whose involvement is now subsidiary—has already taken on a more accessible vocabulary, broken down to the neatly understood categories of habitat, circulation and, especially, activity. With housing specifically precluded, the finished park will be some combination of wildlife preserves, roads and trails, and recreational and cultural facilities. And while it’s easy to imagine that many of the ideas put forth at the recent forum—a cemetery for New York state servicemen, for example, or the inexplicable cattle ranch—won’t be realized, it’s likely that many others will. There is, after all, plenty of space.


At more than two and a half times the size of Central Park, the proposed park will nearly double the size of Staten Island’s existing and adjacent greenbelt. At the same time, it will recast the world’s largest landfill—famously visible from space—as the world’s largest landfill reclamation project. While Corner, who also chairs the landscape architecture and regional planning department at the University of Pennsylvania, cites several precedents for such a conversion—former landfills around San Francisco, in Seoul, Korea, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens—none quite match the scale and scope of this one. “It’s a big site,” he said, undaunted, “and there are many challenges, both ecologically, politically, and in terms of implementation.”

http://www.archpaper.com/images/FreshKills3.jpg http://www.archpaper.com/images/FreshKills4.jpg

Fresh Kills, which takes its name not from its contents but the Dutch word for the creeks that meander through it, is, beyond its stigma, an ecosystem of woodlands and tidal marshes carved out by an Ice Age glacier. It was opened in 1948, intended as a temporary, three-year dumping ground. Despite over 50 years of accepting the bulk of New York’s household garbage—a tenure that ended in March 2001 in a gesture by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to solidify the island’s conservative voting base—it remains home to a diversity of wildlife and vegetation. Six sizable landfill mounds, ranging in height from 90 to 225 feet, comprise 995 acres, or around 45 percent, of the total site. All are, or will be, capped with an impermeable plastic liner and topsoil, as well as drainage and other systems to collect methane released from the decaying waste, which will be sold as heating gas. Public use of these mounds, however, will have to wait until such gases and other byproducts have dissipated and the decomposing heaps have settled. For the larger mounds, this could mean a reduction in height of up to 100 feet over as many as 30 years.


In the meantime, dry lowlands make up 35 percent of the site and much of it is available for more immediate use. In addition to the types of recreational functions already mentioned, these areas are being considered as potential homes for equestrian and other facilities in the city’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Concurrently, a central drive is in the works that will loop around the main fork in the Fresh Kills estuary. This artery, which will connect Richmond Avenue to the West Shore Expressway, will relieve existing traffic congestion while drawing people into the heart of the park just as a network of walkways, paths and ancillary roads disperses them throughout. “In the original scheme, we had more centralized activity areas,” Corner says, “and now they’re more widely distributed, which makes the plan easier to phase in, and in smaller pieces.”


The veterans’ cemetery proposal notwithstanding, Fresh Kills in fact became a cemetery of sorts when it was temporarily reopened after September 11th to accommodate remnants from Ground Zero. A memorial is being planned as well. Corner has designed two earthworks, 40 feet high and in roughly the dimensions of both World Trade Center towers, next to the 48-acre area where the debris, and the victims’ remains within, are buried. The simple, poetic design has already been well received, though it’s still subject to debate and at least one group, the World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial, may see it as altogether unnecessary. Its members are arguing that the debris should instead be resifted—at what would likely be enormous expense—and the separated remains reburied at a more appropriate site.


Though the feasibility of this request is questionable, it nevertheless points to the exorbitant complexity of the task at hand. Politically— and now emotionally—charged, the site faces formidable obstacles in its own evolution from being a colossal, fetid eyesore to becoming a thriving, even idyllic, example of land reclamation. Further public meetings are being held this and next month (details are posted on the city’s Fresh Kills website, www.nyc.gov/freshkills), with a final master plan scheduled for July 2005. Small portions of the new park may open as early as 2007. However, even if the plan sails through the often-thorny processes of community and regulatory involvement, the park will take decades to phase in. There are the technical, environmental and even psychological challenges in turning a former garbage heap with poor soil into a verdant haven for picnickers, not to mention the fact that cost, funding, and final jurisdiction have yet to be determined. Indeed, Fresh Kills’ redevelopment will require a will matched only by an ambition that is as expansive as the site itself.


June 14th, 2004, 12:25 AM
June 14, 2004

Landfill, Park...Final Resting Place?


The master plan for the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island calls for a pair of earthworks in the shape of the twin towers.

It is surely one of the city's most unloved places. Just the mention of its disquieting name, Fresh Kills, makes some people hold their noses and others clutch at their grieving hearts.

This is not just the place where, for more than 50 years, the rest of the city has sent its potato peels, broken dishes and every kind of household trash. For several months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the sad bits of busted buildings and broken lives were sifted on mound 1/9 of Fresh Kills, piece by shattered piece.

Fresh Kills was the world's most colossal dump when the city closed it in early 2001. And now that the Department of City Planning is developing a master plan for turning its 2,200 acres into a vast and innovative new park, it is could become the world's most controversial trash heap.

The problem is not how many soccer fields to build or whether to plant oak trees or magnolias. Rather, a battle is looming over a comparatively tiny area of the vast landfill and the city's intention of preserving the painful memories of what happened here.

There plan actually calls for two areas where Sept. 11 would be memorialized. One area, which is widely approved, would have a pair of monumental earthworks the length and width of the twin towers lying on their sides and pointed toward ground zero. They would be built on 84 acres on top of the landfill mound known as 1/9. There, 1.62 million tons of debris from ground zero were separated and sifted on conveyor belts as investigators searched for victims' remains. All the material that came off the belts was taken to another part of the mound.

Under the plan, visitors would be able to take a somber walk up the wedge-shaped embankments atop the 240-foot mound of trash, and, by walking the length of the towers, reflect on the scope of the tragedy that killed 2,749 people.

There is an additional 48 acres on top of mound 1/9, adjacent to the earthworks site, where the material from ground zero that was left after the sorting is buried and a memorial to the victims might be built. The members of the families of some victims are anguished by the possibility that even the most minute particles of the remains of their loved ones might be entombed on top of a garbage dump.

"When the planning commission asked us what kind of memorial we wanted there, we wrote back to say we never want a memorial," said Diane Horning, of Scotch Plains, N.J., whose son, Matthew, was killed on 9/11. She would support the earth works monument to the rescue workers and the work they did there, she said, "but not a burial ground for our loved ones."

Although it covers 132 acres, not even a tenth of the 2,200 acres in the Fresh Kills tract, the area used for the trade center recovery effort has already forced the designers into an awkward situation.

Mrs. Horning and other relatives say they believe that the cement dust and pulverized glass from the collapsed buildings are mingled with blood, bone and human ashes. Collectively, those particles are called fines, and the families consider them sacred. Mrs. Horning said she had been told that the fines would be kept at Fresh Kills only temporarily, but the city abruptly changed its mind and buried the fines in place. Mrs. Horning helped found a group called WTC Families for Proper Burial that is collecting signatures - it has more than 35,000 so far - in support of removing the material from the mound and burying it at ground zero or some other area with more dignity than the top of a landfill, even one that may one day be included in a park.

"We would rather bury pulverized concrete in a respectful place," she said, "than to have our loved ones left with the garbage."

But the Bloomberg administration has consistently opposed the idea of moving the fines. Besides the huge cost of removing more than a million tons of material, officials insist that all identifiable human remains have already been removed. Sanitation officials say the area is scheduled to be covered with more fill and regraded by the end of this year.

Few people are as familiar with the fines as James Taylor, chairman of Taylor Recycling Facility of Montgomery, N.Y., which sorted through 550,000 tons of the 1.6 million tons brought to Fresh Kills.

"You bring tears to my heart when you make me talk about this," Mr. Taylor said, "but is there human beings in that powder material? Absolutely. There's 2,749 spirits theoretically in that fines material."

"And you just wouldn't go to Fresh Kills landfill to have the ashes spread around."

James Corner, the Philadelphia landscape designer whom the city selected to develop the Fresh Kills master plan, has gotten a quick course in the dynamics of decision making in New York.

"A year ago, we did not know about differentiation between the recovery area and the area where the materials are buried," he said. "We now understand this to be these two components, one monument honoring the rescue workers and the recovery efforts, the other yet to be determined."

When planners meet with victims' families this summer to discuss options for the site, they are likely to hear from some families who are willing to allow the remains to stay where they are. Dennis J. McKeon, chairman of the World Trade Center Outreach Committee of St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church in Great Kills, which helped the families of 150 victims from Staten Island, said a number of people in his group felt that if there were any remains at Fresh Kills, "this is their final resting place."

He added that the whole area was intended to become one of the biggest parks in New York City.

According to the Fresh Kills master plan, the park could eventually have miles of bike trails and winding canoe watercourses, lush green ball fields and rugged natural areas strewn throughout an area two and a half times the size of Central Park.

But to Paul Geidel, a retired fire lieutenant from Staten Island who lost his son Gary, 44, also a firefighter, on 9/11, Fresh Kills will always be an unacceptable place for a memorial.

Recovery workers never found the remains of Mr. Geidel's son or some 1,200 other victims. He says he feels that the fine dust on mound 1/9 contains the only remains he will ever have, and he wants them in a proper place where he can pray for his son.

"It just turns my stomach that he would be left in a garbage dump," he said.

Staten Island residents have generally applauded Mr. Corner's vision of a future without the stench and the seagulls of the dump. They have urged quicker action on new roads and athletic fields but stopped short of commenting on the memorial, preferring to leave that to the families.

Although Councilman Michael E. McMahon of Staten Island said he, too, wanted to see families' wishes respected, he feels it would be "just impossible to remove everything from the site."

He said many of the objections to leaving the fines in place came from Mrs. Horning and others who live outside Staten Island. "They have misconceptions of what the area looks like now," he said.

But Mrs. Horning said she knew exactly what it was like on top of the mound, where workers found her son's wallet and identification card - and no other remains. She visits about every six weeks, but being there provides no tranquility.

Although officials told her that only clean fill was covering the fines, she and other members of her group have seen, and photographed, plastic bottles, old shoes and chunks of steel lying on the ground.

Every day, more than 300 dump trucks crawl up the spine of the mound to unload the construction debris that will form a permanent cap over the area where material from ground zero was sifted. But so far, the trucks have skirted the plateau where the fines are buried.

Mrs. Horning said she feared that the city might quietly begin the process of permanently capping that portion of the mound, too, making it nearly impossible to ever move the fines that she believes contain her son's remains.

That is why she will continue to make the long trip to 1/9 as often as she can. "I go not because I find it peaceful, or because I can connect with my son there," she said. "I go as a watchdog."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 14th, 2004, 01:19 AM
I'm sorry, but does anyone else think this is getting out of hand? Why not bronze the dump trucks that brought the debris there and put it on top of the FT?

June 14th, 2004, 07:59 PM
Not about the subject but I just had to point this out:

There plan actually calls for two areas where Sept. 11 would be memorialized.

Son of an English teacher.

As for the landfill, I guess it would be best if the park was developed around that site and the place stay unchanged for debate.

June 14th, 2004, 09:22 PM
Proper English and keeping right except to pass are rapidly becoming lost skills.

No comment on the landfill.

February 24th, 2005, 12:37 AM
February 24, 2005


From Ruin and Artifice, Landscapes Reborn


At Fresh Kills, James Corner, a landscape architect, envisions crop fields and walking trails.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/t.gifHE name Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who built Central Park when Fifth Avenue was no more than a dirt road, is often on the lips of landscape architects these days.

Trained as a civil engineer, Olmsted had no qualms about moving tons of rock and soil to build the artificial hills and streams in the fake wilderness that he knew urban dwellers would hunger for, long after the real forest was cut down.

Now his heirs stand on rooftops, parking garages and old dumps recalling not his pastoral landscapes, but his vision: that a great park will bring development and economic prosperity. And that it takes time.

"Fresh Kills will be three times as big as Central Park," James Corner, a landscape architect, said last week, standing on one of the highly engineered mounds of capped garbage at that former landfill, which sprawls over 2,200 acres on Staten Island. Mr. Corner's firm, Field Operations, is designing and building the park.

It took 53 years to build these mountains of garbage. It will take at least 30 years to build up the thin soil that covers them, enrich its sparse habitats and create the amenities - from meandering trails to ball fields and restaurants - to draw visitors.

"Cities are clamoring for distinctive open space projects," Mr. Corner said. "Politicians are beginning to see that grand public projects, while they may have a high price tag, can yield real dividends in terms of a city's competitive edge."

Fresh Kills is one of 23 landscapes featured in "Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape," which opens tomorrow at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition, organized by Peter Reed, a curator in the department of architecture and design, documents a sea change in landscape architecture.

No longer the handmaidens of architects, landscape architects are building huge parks, some on a 19th-century scale, on polluted industrial spaces like Duisburg-Nord, the former Thyssen Steelworks in the Ruhr district of Germany. Here, Peter Latz, a German designer, has embraced the old blast furnaces as monumental memories of the past. Rock climbers scale the ore bunkers, scuba divers swim in the old cooling pools, gardens and wild weeds bloom.

In the exhibition catalog Mr. Reed acknowledges Gas Works Park, in Seattle, designed in the 1970's by Richard Haag, as the precedent for Duisburg-Nord and others. Seattle had hired Mr. Haag to draw up a master plan for the 20-acre park, assuming that the leftover gas plant would be razed. "The ground was very polluted," Mr. Haag recalled. "The buildings were boarded up, the place was fenced off. It was a desperate, desolate place."

But he was attracted to it. He camped out among the ruins, and he pored over the old records. He searched for the power of the place.

"I'm always looking for the most sacred thing on the site," Mr. Haag recalled. "But there was no forest or a brook. I thought, 'I'm going to save those two towers, whatever I do.' "

He spent the next 30 years trying to convince city officials and the Environmental Protection Agency that over time, aerating the soil and growing plants would clean waste from the soil. That was long before phytoremediation - using plants to do just that - had filtered into universities and public works departments.

For more than 30 years a heavy wire fence has kept people from wandering among the towers. Now, thanks to the lobbying of local parks advocates, the award-winning park has been designated a landmark by the city and state.

And last year Seattle's City Council voted to fix the towers and take down the fence.

"We hope it can be done by the Fourth of July," Mr. Haag said.

Groundswell also examines the extraordinary plazas that are transforming small, derelict spaces in cities. In Rotterdam, for instance, Adriaan Geuze, the director of West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, has turned the roof of a parking garage into a lively, uncluttered space.

"Rotterdam had been bombed during the war, so every building is new and has a lack of identity," Mr. Geuze said, speaking from his office in Rotterdam. He looked to the city's port for a vital sense of self.

"We thought the new square could be a recollection of the port, so we created the mosaic floor using old material from boats and pontoons and decks," he said. There are oversize, comfortable benches waiting for the readers, the lovers, the spectators.

"We created a public space as a void," Mr. Geuze said, knowing that people would fill it: actors, musicians, peddlers, soccer players. There are no trees here either. The world has way too many "shallow landscapes, with every square meter filled with benches and beautiful plants," Mr. Geuze said.

Groundswell also takes a look at Weiss/Manfredi's design for the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park, to be completed next year. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, who are based in New York, sought to connect Seattle back to its waterfront through the construction of a zigzagging land bridge that spans a highway and railroad and joins three separate pieces of land.

The eight-and-half-acre site, built on an old gas storage and transfer station, descends 40 feet to the water, where the old sea wall is to be removed to allow salmon to spawn on submerged, algae-covered terraces. Works by artists like Alexander Calder and Richard Serra will be as much a part of the landscape as the Western cedars and aspen, planted to evoke the Northwest forest. And the design makes no attempt to hide the infrastructure.

These new parks sit comfortably among the traffic jams and city lights.

Up on the grassy mound at Fresh Kills, Mr. Corner looked down on the surprisingly clear creek. He could see the rush hour traffic crawling soundlessly south on the West Shore Expressway; the Bayonne Bridge arching westward to New Jersey, the Manhattan skyline to the north, Long Island stretching east into the hazy Atlantic.

Mr. Corner wants to put scrims around the towers of the flare station, which collects methane gas from the capped mounds. "We would light them at night," he said. "You would see them like lanterns in the black void."

Just as Mr. Haag planted clover at Gas Works Park, Mr. Corner will plant cover crops like mustard, rapeseed and kale, which not only help clean pollutants from the soil but actually build organic material.

"Over three or four years we could add four to six inches to the soil," Mr. Corner said.

That's the beginning of what he means by "growing" a landscape. And just as poplar and red oak move into old fields, these mustard fields will evolve into a far more diverse habitat of plants and countless other species.

Mr. Corner's team will build a memorial to the thousands of workers who cleared the remains of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. He pointed to the highest mound, where two earthworks, the height and width of the towers, will be laid on the ground.

"You will walk up one at a 6 percent incline, then turn and walk up the other," Mr. Corner said. "It's an anti-monument, in the sense that the real experience comes through walking."

It will take the average person 15 minutes, walking through wildflower meadows and under a big sky and a horizon as far as the eye can see.

"When you get to the top, the highest point on the site, you'll be on axis to Manhattan," Mr. Corner said.

The towers are still shockingly absent from that skyline. But here, on top of the old dump, where landscape architects are helping nature reclaim the site, it's a good place for healing and reflection.

Groundswell casts a wide net, from Staten Island to Beirut, to remind people of another ancient role of public places, as sacred sites. But the rowdy, joyful public square is back too - on Rollerblades, on the wastelands.

"Groundswell" runs through May 16 at the Museum of Modern Art: (212) 708-9400.

Landscape architects like Mr. Corner, standing in the Fresh Kills garbage dump on Staten Island, are designing parks on polluted industrial sites.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

April 8th, 2006, 05:11 AM
April 8, 2006
A New Scenic Destination: That's Right, It's Fresh Kills

Forget the liquid ooze from New York City's garbage, slowly seeping downward, five years after the last load of trash arrived at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Don't mind the methane gas, which is slowly percolating underground and which the city hopes to harness someday to create electricity, and revenue.

The city's Department of Parks and Recreation will offer monthly bus tours, starting at the end of this month, as part of the effort to transform Fresh Kills, once the world's largest landfill, into a vast park with picnic grounds, athletic fields and a giant earthen monument to the Sept. 11 victims.

"This is a great way for New Yorkers to understand the spectacular potential of Fresh Kills to become the great park of the 21st century," the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said yesterday. "Being on top of any of the mounds gives you a view unparalleled anywhere in New York City. You have the feeling of being on an alpine meadow."

Those mounds, of course, were formed by tons of trash that accumulated over 53 years. The plan to transform the once-smelly landfill into a park took a major step forward this week, with the completion of a draft master plan that will guide construction on the 2,315-acre site.

The plan, released on Thursday by the Department of City Planning, envisions five park areas to be built over 30 years: a 100-acre core, to be called the Confluence; a small North Park for the residents of the Travis neighborhood; a South Park with varied terrain for mountain biking, soccer and horseback riding; an East Park with a golf course, a freshwater marsh and large art installations; and a West Park with long-distance trails for running and even skiing, as well as the 9/11 monument.

To get there, the planners must first erase the old image of Fresh Kills.

"No one could really see Fresh Kills when it was a landfill," said James Corner, a British landscape architect and urban planner who is the chief designer of the new park. "All they saw was the trash trucks and the sea gulls, and they smelled the stench. If you could get visitors now and put them in a car or bus to go for a drive around, they're totally blown away and surprised by their worst expectations being supplanted by something that's actually pretty scenic and beautiful."

Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning, who oversaw the plan, said the past few tours have helped to stimulate public interest in the park. "The rolling wetlands, the hills and the views are just breathtaking," she said. "It is one of the most glorious sights, already, in the entire city, and it is totally unique."

Ms. Burden said that Fresh Kills and the High Line, a 1.5-mile defunct elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan that is also being turned into a park, were "the major legacy projects of the Bloomberg administration."

The master plan is the most detailed version of a proposal first put forward in 1996, when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced the closing of the landfill, the city's major repository of residential solid waste since 1948.

The landfill received its last load of trash in March 2001, but the closing of the site, which is still controlled by the Sanitation Department, was delayed for a year because it was kept open to accommodate the debris from the Sept. 11 attack. Two earthworks, the length and width of the World Trade Center towers, are planned for the southwestern part of the site.

Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has committed $100 million in city money to the project, only a small part of the park will be open by the time he leaves office at the end of 2009. Three soccer fields, known as the Owl Hollow and covering 35 acres, are to be completed by 2007, at a cost of $6.5 million.

In a nod to the car-reliant culture of Staten Island, the plan then calls for seven miles of park drives, connecting Richmond Avenue to the busy West Shore Expressway, to be mostly completed by 2009.

The former landfill occupies 45 percent of the nearly four square miles of the park area. The rest is made up of wetlands, marshes, creeks, tidal flats, open meadows and woodland.

The project is enormously complex from an environmental standpoint because of the decades it takes for trash to decompose. Of the six giant mounds of trash at Fresh Kills, three have been covered with a thick, impermeable cap, and the remaining three are to be fully capped between 2008 and 2011.

The next step in the park's development is an environmental impact statement, to be completed by the summer of 2007. After a land-use review, the master plan will be finished and construction will start in 2009.

Not everyone is a fan of the park. Benjamin Miller, a former Sanitation Department official, has long criticized Mr. Giuliani's decision to close Fresh Kills without an alternative landfill or incineration plan to replace it. The city pays at least $300 million a year more than it did when Fresh Kills was open, as a result of having to pay trucking companies to haul garbage out of state, he said.

"I believe it is the most irresponsible decision a mayor of New York City has ever made, in terms of the long-term fiscal and environmental impacts," Mr. Miller said.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

June 25th, 2006, 03:18 AM
June 25, 2006
From Landfill to Landscape, a Staten Island Cinderella Story Still Unfolding

The tour bus crawled up the winding gravel road in low gear. On both sides, the views stretched through the drizzle toward infinity, green, green, as far as the eye could see. A light blanket of fog enhanced the sense of splendid isolation.

Two hawks swooped low over a hillside; just beyond the border of the road, a fat, bejeweled ring-necked pheasant strutted in the wet grass. One of the passengers, Charles Fallon, piped up from the back seat, "This would be an excellent place for meadowlarks."

This excellent place was Fresh Kills on Staten Island, former site of the city garbage dump, future site of the city's largest park. Currently, the place is pretty much empty, which is what drew about 20 tourists yesterday morning to the Parks Department's first public tour of the 2,200-acre parcel.

"I wanted to see the before and after," said Ann Pisano, 67, who grew up five miles from the dump, the smell of rotting trash never far from her nostrils.

The city plans to offer the tours twice a month. More information is at nycgovparks.org (http://nycgovparks.org/).

As the bus reached the summit of the south mound, 200 feet above the surrounding marsh, a city park ranger, Brian Kasper, explained that the city had laid down 14 feet of fill and soil since the dump was closed in 2001. "It's a long way down till you get to something garbage-related," he said.

The bus stopped and the tourists fanned out along the hilltop and gazed across fields of grass and mugwort, chicory and fleabane flowers. To the southeast lay one of several dense housing developments that have been built near the landfill, but in most directions the view was something like a landscape painting of the French countryside, with a few methane-burning stacks and office trailers standing in for stone farmhouses.

"It's a lot better than I thought," said another native islander, James Lonano. "It almost looks like a parkland already."

There were a few out-of-towners on the bus. Ms. Pisano brought along two of her grandchildren, visiting from State College, Pa. They looked miserable. There was also a three-man crew from Omaha making a documentary about waste. The 23-year-old auteur, Henry Phelps, traveled cross-country for three months this spring, carrying every bit of garbage he generated in a clear plastic bag on his back. He seemed a little disappointed by the absence of visible trash.

Fresh Kills Park will be nearly triple the size of Central Park and is expected to take more than 30 years and hundreds of millions of dollars to complete, though the city intends to open parts of it to the public starting next year. The plan for the park includes cycling trails, tennis courts, greenhouses, stables, birding platforms, a sports stadium and a 9/11 memorial — an earthen sculpture as long as the twin towers were tall, to be built on the mound where rescuers sifted through the World Trade Center wreckage.

Sgt. Anne Reid, another ranger, said that the hilly parts of the park would be seeded with native plants and trees. "Not like Central Park, which has all exotic ornamentals," she added with a touch of disdain.

The bus wound on past a runoff pond dappled with mallards and egrets, crossed over Richmond Creek, black and swollen after recent rains, and discharged its passengers again at the top of the north mound.

Charles Stoffers, a retired stockbroker and active bird-watcher, strolled to the edge of the gravel and returned. "If you get far from the bus," he reported, "you can catch a little whiff of what it used to be like: rotting cabbage."

Then it was back on the bus and down past a paved lot covered with corrugated-steel garages and land-moving equipment.

"This is the main area where the restaurants and boat launches will be," Mr. Kasper said. "Some of the machinery will be left behind sort of as an added bonus, to show people what it was like. Some of the barges that used to take trash out will be floating gardens."

As the bus headed back toward civilization, Ms. Pisano wondered what the area would have looked like if the dump had never existed. "All this would be homes now," she said. "It's a good thing."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

June 25th, 2006, 11:01 AM
At Fresh Kills, James Corner, a landscape architect, envisions crop fields and walking trails

I think they should stay away from Crops and stick to landscapes, you could not pay me to eat something grown there.

June 25th, 2006, 01:48 PM
^ agreed, strongly.!!!

January 25th, 2007, 11:49 AM
New York Magazine
January 25, 2007

You'll Be Able to Frolic in a Staten Island Dump Sooner Than You Thought

What the dump can look like in twenty years. We particularly like the windmills.

That plan to turn Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill — the city's enormous garbage dump, shuttered in early 2001 by Giuliani and briefly reopened to warehouse World Trade Center detritus — into a giant park will take a decade to complete, the city is now saying. (And, hey, take your time, guy. Last thing we want is to dig up a patch of benzene with our cleats.) But we can't help a little giddiness to learn that we'll actually be able to play soccer on Fresh Kills in a little more than a year. According to park administrator Eloise Hirsh, the 2,200-acre project will go through intensive environmental review this year — but one soccer field, Owl Hollow, sits outside the actual landfill and is currently being bid out to contractors. Park officials are still designing the bathroom (insert stupid gas jokes here), but construction should begin — with tours of the site — by spring. —Alec Appelbaum

Copyright © 2007, New York Magazine Holdings LLC.

January 25th, 2007, 01:38 PM

Maybe "Fresh Mills"?

January 25th, 2007, 03:07 PM
Or "Fresh Hills"?

August 27th, 2007, 08:56 AM
This site hosts a discussion board for the NYC Fresh Kills Park Project.


September 5th, 2007, 05:33 PM
Maybe one day they can get a train stop at the park when Staten Island gets the Westside of the Island connected via train.

September 12th, 2007, 01:37 PM

Maybe "Fresh Mills"?

Why change it? Why not take it back. If you make a beautiful park people won't associate the name Fresh Kills with a landfil but with a park, especially if this is a long term thing. All the old people will remember but eventually new generations will grow up only knowing it as a park.

September 12th, 2007, 02:01 PM
I don't think of landfill when I hear "Fresh Kills"

I think of dead critters.

It is like naming a day care center "Bash and Beat Day Care". It would have nothing to do with the fact that the place was once a meat tenderizing plant... ;)

September 12th, 2007, 11:40 PM
It's a historical name, with Dutch roots.

Riverbed. The area was named for the kills that drained the land.

They're all over the place. Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, Schuylkill, Walkill.


This is almost as nonsensical as PETA wanting the town of Fishkill to change its name (true story).

September 13th, 2007, 10:33 AM
Across the Hudson is Sparkill, NY and Cresskill, NJ.

September 13th, 2007, 01:53 PM
I understand guys.

But unlike Wallkill or Creskill, I have never heard of anyone killing a wall.

And what is a Cress? ;)

September 13th, 2007, 02:17 PM
How about killing a cat?

Does that conger up a vivid image of sadistic boys?

September 13th, 2007, 03:02 PM
Are you refering to the Catskills?

I always put that together as "Cat-Skills".

For some reason I try not to picture the worst in some things... ;)

Maybe they just need to use a different word than "fresh". Maybe Brook, or Fen, Glade, something that is a little less blatant when said in english with a NY dialect....

They do not have to do anything, but even after the explanation you guys gave me I still see it is a newly deceased victim lying there, fresh. I am sure most others would not have the Wiki-like archival mental resources as you guys here and think something similar... :D

September 13th, 2007, 03:07 PM

In Holland, how would "kill" be pronounced?

I read that it is no longer commonly used, and most of the Google hits I got dealt with telling the origins of Kill, what it meant, and what places were named after it (or places trying to sell me books.vids on how to learn Dutch), but nothing on the actual pronunciation.

Is it the same as ours? Or is this another mottled translation?

September 13th, 2007, 04:57 PM
Knock yourself out.


September 14th, 2007, 12:44 PM
Company searches Arthur Kill for lost silver bars

9/14/2007, 11:49 a.m. EDT
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — In 1903, a barge carrying about 8,000 silver bars belonging to the Guggenheim family spilled the precious cargo in the Arthur Kill, a busy shipping channel between Staten Island and New Jersey.

Most of the silver bars were recovered, but it's believed about 1,400 — worth $6,000 to $7,000 each — are still beneath the water.

Now Aqua Survey, a company in Hunterdon County, N.J., which specializes in environmental research, is trying to locate them, using advanced technology to map the waters.

The silver bars were being taken from the Port of New York to the Guggenheims' smelting facility in Perth Amboy, N.J., when the cargo went overboard.

A five-member team was out last week in a small boat in the harbor's Story's Flats, just north of the Outerbridge Crossing and south of the Arthur Kill landfill on Staten Island. It probed the murky bottom, usually coming up with thick mud and sediment nicknamed "black mayonnaise."

Ken Hayes, president of the Kingwood-based company, said they do not fancy themselves treasure hunters but rather scientists with curiosity.

The team has used advanced global positioning software, electromagnets and sonar equipment to locate about 270 potential targets. The software is designed to locate silver but not iron, making the search easier — "though we could also just find a car battery," Hayes said as he piloted a motorboat on the relatively calm water last week.

September 14th, 2007, 01:18 PM
Based on current Silver Pricing (http://www.silverpa.com/pricing.php) and on the figures below (from Bullion Direct (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/selectProducts.do?category=1&ovmkt=0AOF00HISDVA6FG948PRRBL5F8&gclid=COu6-p24w44CFSasGgodYEdvxQ)) it seems the Guggenheim bars weighed 500 oz. each ...


SIB999:0100 (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=A3B4B1D7CD9775A88D C4CD4CC0905864?id=976422898) Silver - Bullion .999 pure [Bars] - (100.00 oz.): $1,272.00
SIB999:0100:CMX (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=A3B4B1D7CD9775A88D C4CD4CC0905864?id=142534557) Silver - Bullion .999 pure [Bar] - CMX (100.00 oz.): $1,283.00
SIB999:0100:EH (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=A3B4B1D7CD9775A88D C4CD4CC0905864?id=294945976) Silver - Bullion .999 pure[ Bar] - Engelhard (100.00 oz.): $1,296.00
SIB999:0100:JM (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=A3B4B1D7CD9775A88D C4CD4CC0905864?id=971315328) Silver - Bullion .999 pure [Bar] - Johnson-Matthey (100.00 oz.): $1,292.00
SIB999:1000:CMX (http://www.bulliondirect.com/catalog/showProductDetail.do;jsessionid=A3B4B1D7CD9775A88D C4CD4CC0905864?id=75023069) Silver - Bullion .999 pure [Bar] - CMX (1,000.00 oz.):$12,760.00

September 14th, 2007, 01:26 PM
Kingwood tech firm seeks sunken silver

Delaware Valley News (http://www.nj.com/delawarevalleynews/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1189105754299960.xml&coll=12)
September 06, 2007

In the next few weeks Aqua Survey of Kingwood Township will be looking for millions of dollars' worth of silver on the bottom of New York Harbor.

According to Ken Hayes, the Guggenheim family "lost their cargo of more than 1,400 silver bars when it slipped off a barge almost 104 years ago" in a part of the harbor known as Story Flats.

This quest is dedicated to the memory of David Bright, a Raritan Township man who died last year diving on the wreck of the Andrea Doria, a luxury liner that sank near Nantucket Island, Mass. in 1956. He had collaborated with Aqua Survey on searching for the Guggenheim silver.

To help with its main work of taking underwater samples for environmental testing, Aqua Survey developed powerful electromagnetic detection equipment with the help of experts on unexploded munitions. This equipment allows the firm's staff to detect underground utilities or bombs - or even silver bars buried deep under water and sediment.

The firm needs to locate such pipes, wires and such to prevent interfering with them while taking samples.

Using a combination of geophysical tools (magnetometer, side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profiler, fathometer and electromagnetic instruments) coupled with sediment coring and sediment analysis techniques, "we have found a trail of non-ferrous metal objects buried in Story Flats," Mr. Hayes reported. So far, they've recorded 273 "probable locations" - something which could be a car battery - or a silver bar.

"Treasure hunting has never been a business strategy at Aqua Survey," he said. "We're not treasure hunters. What we are, however, is a group of hardworking scientists who share a curiosity for the world around us."

Research determined that the silver bars came from the mining town of Zacatecas, Mexico.

What will he do, if the bar quest is successful?

He'd like to keep one as a keepsake and would give one back to Zacatecas.
If they get many ... who knows?

He said a federal judge would decide who ends up with the silver.

"When we considered continuing our search for the Guggenheims' treasure after David's death, we saw it not only as a way to honor our friend, but also as an opportunity to broaden and strengthen our geophysical technical skills," he said.

Mr. Bright first became involved with Aqua Survey several few years ago when he hired the firm to provide side-scan sonar and magnetometry services to help locate a downed Navy patrol bomber that had mysteriously vanished 60 years before in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle.

Mr. Bright was considered the leading authority on the Andrea Doria and had dived on it more than 120 times. But the perils of deep-sea diving caught up with him. He died July 8, 2006 at the age of 49, after surfacing from a dive. Apparently he went into cardiac arrest, the result of decompression sickness, also known as the bends, the Coast Guard said.

©2007 New Jersey On-Line LLC.

September 14th, 2007, 01:32 PM
Arthur Kill (http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/harbor/maps/index.htm)


Arthur Kill (C) Zoomed Out (http://www.hi-techboats.com/JERSEY_KAYAK_LAUNCH_SITES_BY_NAME/V_PREFIX/V-Arthur_Kill_C.jpg)


September 14th, 2007, 02:11 PM
I wonder how many were "lost" in the pockets of the recovery teams and the original shippers before the ship even sank...

July 14th, 2011, 06:21 AM
No Dumping on Fresh Kills


The Urban Gardner endeavors to keep readers abreast of a wide variety of topics, among them the arts (including the culinary arts), politics, society, science, nature, and even occasionally, gardening. But one area where I frankly admit I've dropped the ball is travel. There simply haven't been enough stories on voyage to exotic locales. So I hope to remedy that by writing about kayaking Fresh Kills.


If the place rings a bell, that's because from 1947 until it closed a decade ago, Fresh Kills was the one of the world's largest landfills. Indeed, if you've lived in New York City long enough and knew where to dig, chances are you could find memorabilia, both organic and inorganic, dating back to your infancy buried deep beneath its 150-foot hills. They're known as the North, East, South, and West Mounds.

The fate of the detritus was just one of the borderline mystical thoughts I entertained Monday afternoon when I reported to Fresh Kills, on Staten Island, to go kayaking there with Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. To be honest, I wasn't expecting the commissioner, who was donning sunscreen and waiting to hit the water. And I hadn't put two and two together that the Fresh Kills I'd been invited to go boating on was the landfill. I thought it was someplace nearby with the same Dutch-sounding name.


While it may be hard to wrap your arms around, and even harder to get excited enough to plan an outing, the city is in the process of transforming the former dump into a park that—at 2,200 acres—will be almost three times the size of Central Park. Of course, it won't be mistaken for its storied Manhattan sibling anytime soon. While the city has great hopes for the land, which it plans to build in phases over the next 30 years (among them as a destination for mountain-biking, trail-running, and horseback-riding), the mounds that comprise the park are so far dotted not with fountains, such as the Bethesda Fountain, but with well-heads to collect the decomposing gases, and treatment plants where something called leachate is rendered harmless and released into Arthur Kill.

A bumper sticker on the back of Mr. Benepe's black city-issued SUV asks "Got Frederick Law Olmsted?" The answer, in regards to Fresh Kills, is, not quite yet. Having said that, I failed to detect any odors that recalled the landfill's hard-working past. Indeed, as the commissioner and I transported our kayak into Main Creek, he could be forgiven for conjuring up Cape Cod, where his family spends their summer vacation, or at least someplace far from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

"It's better than Jamaica Bay—you don't see the city," the commissioner explained, as he surveyed the bucolic landscape while we paddled out and sucked in the air, though perhaps not too deeply. (With our launch, Mr. Benepe was also marking a milestone: Fresh Kills made Staten Island the fifth and final borough he'd either kayaked or canoed.)
"This is as quiet as it gets in New York City—the distant sound of song sparrows, the paddles in the water," he mused as we passed under an osprey nest where a mother guarded her young.


Our afternoon had started by climbing, fortunately in Parks Department vehicles, to the summit of the South Mound, where you could barely make out the Manhattan skyline through the haze and 90-degree heat. That's also where Carrie Grassi, Fresh Kills' enthusiastic outreach and land use manager, gave me a tutorial on the gray arts of decomposition, liquid byproducts, and containment walls. The way the system works is that the waste mountain is capped with a plastic liner that prevents everything from the carcass of your 1998 Thanksgiving turkey, to all those back issues of Playboy you threw out in the Eighties and now wished you'd kept (though somebody probably rescued them), from leaching into the surrounding environment.

Then additional layers of highly-engineered soil, rock, and drainage conduits, culminating in several inches of high-quality planting soil, are spread over the plastic. The final step in the process is an invitation to our citizenry, wildlife, and native plant species to partake of the panorama. The wildlife and plants have already responded to their invitation; the public will have to wait a while longer. The park is not yet open, except in twice-weekly bus tours, and occasional kayaking and birding trips. There's also an annual October event called "Sneak Peak" and which last year attracted 2,000 curiosity-seekers.

I wondered who would schlep to Staten Island for a "festival," as Ms. Grassi described it, at a former landfill. Staten Islanders, that's who. "It's interesting how emotional some people get," she observed. "They see green, see beauty, see quiet; they lived with this burden all these years. It doesn't have to be a burden for the people of Staten Island anymore."

I was also careful as we kayaked out into Main Creek, between the grass-covered North and East Mounds, not to dip my hand into the water—despite Mr. Benepe's coaching that if I plunged my paddle at a steeper angle, we'd make better progress. Call me a sissy, but I was concerned that if my hand came in contact with the creek, it might emerge as skeletal remains, or I'd at least get a rash. Ms. Grassi had earlier informed me that the water is classified "secondary contact," meaning that it's "safe for boating."

Nonetheless, if the varieties of waterfowl we encountered are any indication, as we paddled up the creek and maneuvered in and out of the high Spartina grass inlets, the waterway and the surrounding park are well on their way to recovery. Ms. Grassi is even thinking of bringing in goats. "We want to have goats do vegetation management," she explained. Apparently the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve, the former landfill in Merrick, Long Island, successfully introduced Nigerian Dwarf goats. And the dream doesn't stop there. Think of it, Ms. Grassi went on, "Fresh Kills goat cheese! Fresh Kills yarn!"

It sounds great. But for the moment I'll keep getting my goat cheese from Vermont.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303678704576442183161140462.html?m od=rss_newyork_news

July 14th, 2011, 08:18 AM
Fresh kills is now part of the Staten Island Greenbelt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staten_Island_Greenbelt).

Greenbelt Conservancy (http://sigreenbelt.org/)

NYC Parks (http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/vt_the_greenbelt/vt_the_greenbelt.html)

July 14th, 2011, 02:30 PM
The Fresh kills pics and write up are amazing! I lived in SI for about 10 yrs leaving just as the dump closed about 10 yrs ago. The difference between what you posted, and what I recall is just astounding. I am glad to see it.

August 1st, 2011, 03:06 AM
From Wikipedia:

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Fresh Kills was temporarily in use as a sorting ground for roughly one third of the rubble from Ground Zero. More than 1600 personal effects were retrieved during this time. About two million tons of material obtained from Ground Zero was taken to the landfill for sorting. Thousands of detectives and forensic evidence specialists worked for over 1.7 million hours at Fresh Kills Landfill to try to recover remnants of the people killed in the attacks. A final count of 4,257 human remains were recovered, and from those, 300 people were identified. A memorial is being built to honor those that were not able to be identified in all of the debris from the attack. The remaining debris was buried in a 40-acre (160,000 m2) portion of the landfill; it is highly likely that this debris still contains fragmentary human remains.

I have nothing on this issue at the moment.

December 18th, 2012, 08:00 AM
Staten Island Landfill Park Proves Savior in Hurricane


Video (http://bcove.me/d8u7x75p)

During Hurricane Sandy, the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island absorbed a critical part of the storm surge. Its hills and waterways spared nearby neighborhoods like Travis, Bulls Head, New Springville and Arden Heights much worse flooding. The 2,200-acre site, which closed a decade ago and is being turned into a park (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/30/nyregion/fresh-kills-once-a-landfill-is-environmentally-transformed.html), was also temporarily reopened as a transfer station, helping officials and relief agencies clear debris from around the city.

If many New Yorkers, Staten Islanders included, still can’t help thinking of the place as a mountain range of stinking trash, that’s understandable. But since its closing, Fresh Kills has become a model for landfill reclamation around the world, having been transformed into a vast green space full of wildlife. Now it is also demonstrating the role of wetland buffers in battling rising waters.

Maybe this will help push officials to ready what is known as Freshkills Park for visitors. James Corner, the landscape architect who helped design the High Line (http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/james-corner-field-operations) and heads the firm Field Operations, won a competition years ago to transform the site and imagined a decades-long, evolving earthwork of different grasses, grown, cut and replanted, creating a rich new soil and landscape.

It’s a visionary plan. But regulatory and financial hurdles, along with the usual bureaucratic conflicts, have stalled progress. The state environmental agency wants to make sure the site is safe, which makes sense. At the same time, the price tag — by some estimates, hundreds of millions of dollars — has clearly daunted city leaders and led officials to pursue a piecemeal transformation that could undo Mr. Corner’s concept.

Considering the unconscionable $4 billion (or more) that is being squandered on a new PATH station at the World Trade Center site for perhaps 50,000 commuters, the cost of Fresh Kills doesn’t sound quite so crazy. Now there’s word that the Metropolitan Transit Authority may need to spend $600 million (http://www.npr.org/2012/12/06/166672858/post-sandy-fixes-to-nyc-subways-to-cost-billions) to restore the South Ferry subway station, which opened just in 2009 and was flooded by the storm. It’s hard to say which is more scandalous, that the authority’s planners hadn’t anticipated flooding at a station on the water’s edge, or that subway fare increases will partly go to pay for their shortsightedness.

By comparison, Fresh Kills has come out smelling like roses.

I recently paid a visit and shot a video of the site with my colleague David Frank and Eloise Hirsh, administrator of Freshkills Park for the New York City Parks Department. No wonder Mr. Corner discovered such potential in what has become a timely research post for climate change and ecological restoration. Once it is opened to the public, the park also promises to repay long-suffering Staten Island residents who endured generations of stench and anger, and more than that, to give the entire city an immense, bucolic urban playland — a 21st-century postindustrial landmark rising from mounds of 20th-century waste.

Who knows? In its shift from blight to boon, it could become a park as unexpected and transformative for the city as the High Line.


April 11th, 2013, 10:44 AM
Awesome shot.



December 11th, 2014, 03:17 AM
From Trash to Trails: A Boat Tour to Freshkills Park on Staten Island

by Catherine Mondkar


Remember that colossal landfill on Staten Island that held millions of tons of New York’s garbage? That once stinking, seagull infested dump, aka the Freshkills landfill (http://untappedcities.com/2009/06/24/fresh-kills-park-garbage-greenery-conversion/) which gave Staten Island an unfortunate identity for over half a century, is now on its way to becoming the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. Spanning over 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park (http://untappedcities.com/tag/freshkills-park/) will be three times the size of Central Park (http://untappedcities.com/2013/11/26/top-10-secrets-of-central-park-nyc/) upon completion! Untapped Cities had the opportunity of joining AIANY (http://cfa.aiany.org/index.php?section=tours) aboard the classic harbor line yacht ‘Manhattan’ (http://www.sail-nyc.com/content/new-york-city-architecture-cruise) for one of their Archtober tours (http://untappedcities.com/2014/09/29/20-great-events-to-check-out-at-2014-archtober-festival-in-nyc/), meandering through the narrow creeks (or Kills as they call it in Dutch) within this already picturesque landscape.

(Top) The Freshkills landfill, in 1990. Photo: Stephen Ferry via NYMag (http://nymag.com/news/features/52452/).
(Bottom) Rendering of Freshkills Park, courtesy: James Corner Field Operations (http://www.fieldoperations.net/project-details/project/freshkills-park.html) and NYC Parks Department (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/freshkills-park)

The (almost) four hour tour (https://www.zerve.com/SailNYC/ArchTour), hosted by Arthur Platt of AIANY and Carrie Grassi of the Office for Recovery and Resiliency, transported us from the dense urban forest of lower Manhattan into the soft riparian edge of Staten Island and back. Beginning at Chelsea Piers, our yacht swooped past the old and new towers of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Governors island, before making its way into the heart of Freshkills Park (http://untappedcities.com/2009/06/30/in-pictures-fresh-kills-park/) via Arthur Kill and Kill Van Kull.

The route of our boat ride aboard the stylish yacht Manhattan. (http://untappedcities.com/2014/06/04/circumnavigate-manhattan-on-roaring-20s-architectural-boat-cruise-with-aia/)

Throughout the expedition, our hosts guided us along a fascinating path of history, heartache and success of the former landfill, as we followed the same route taken by barges that once carried 29,000 tons of refuse daily. The creation of Freshkills landfill is a true testament to the common belief prevailing through the mid- 20th century that wetland areas fostered pestilence, disease, and criminal behavior; and a common remedy for improving this (otherwise ecologically rich and beneficial) land was to fill and bury it in refuse!

So it’s no surprise, that in 1948, Robert Moses chose this vast landscape to temporarily absorb NYC’s garbage. Moses’ vision to “reclaim” the land, involved covering it with garbage for three years to establish a solid raised grade in order to eventually construct coastal parks and residential areas. Alas, three years turned into fifty-three years and Freshkills soon became the largest landfill in the world. With undulating hills of trash rising 200 feet high, devoid of coastal parks and residential areas, Freshkills was instead surrounded by angry and resentful Staten Islanders whose backyard had literally become the city’s dumping ground.

Cruising through the Upper Bay, our eyes wandered around an array of neighborhoods along Brooklyn’s waterfront, port of Bayonne and the northern shores of Staten Island which will soon be boasting of the world’s tallest observation wheel (http://untappedcities.com/2013/08/28/worlds-biggest-ferris-wheel-three-projects-that-will-change-the-staten-island-waterfront/). In the distance, the Verrezano Narrows Bridge formed an elegant gateway for all vessels into New York Harbor.

The coastal edges along the 3-mile stretch of Kill Van Kull are dominated by the active industrial infrastructure in Bayonne and their decaying precursors, across the channel, along Staten Island’s Port Richmond Avenue. Although these once thriving industries are long gone, the historic Caddell dry docks still provides service to marine vessels, including South Street Seaport’s three historic ships; Peking, Wavertree and the lightship Ambrose.

Bringing us back to the history of Freshkills, Grassi explained that following its closure as a landfill in 2001 (with 30 more years of landfill capacity remaining), the city embarked upon an international design competition to imagine ways in which this valuable land could be used. The winning proposal from James Corner Field Operations (http://www.fieldoperations.net/project-details/project/freshkills-park.html) outlined a strategy spanning three decades, to transform the former landfill into New York’s newest park. Through the rare pairing of natural and engineered landscapes, including creeks, wetlands and expansive meadows, Freshkills Park (http://freshkillspark.org/the-park/the-park-plan) will not only offer an array of recreational opportunities, but also provide educational programming, diverse habitats for wildlife and ecological restoration.



As the enchanted crowd was absorbing the flurry of information, we passed by a barge carrying what could have been mistaken for garbage of all things! Turns out, it was filled with bundles of paper and boxes that New Yorker’s diligently recycle every day–on its way to be transformed into pizza boxes at the Pratt recycling plant located right at the tip of Freshkills Park.


Since 2006, NYC Parks (http://www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/freshkills-park) and the Sanitation department have assumed responsibility for implementing the project using James Corner’s master plan as a conceptual guide. The site is being developed from the outside in so that the communities living at its edges, will be able to enjoy the benefits of the new park sooner. An important aspect which sets James Corner’s design apart from others, is his incorporation of various sustainable features, including geothermal heating and cooling, wind farms and the city’s largest solar panel installation. All of which will be nestled among the four enormous mounds (http://freshkillspark.org/the-park/the-park-plan), now almost entirely capped with a 5 ft thick engineered system (http://freshkillspark.org/the-park/landfill-engineering) comprised of different sub-layers.

Each of the four mounds made of 135 to 200 feet of trash will serve different functions. The South mound will accommodate recreational activities including horseback riding and mountain bike trails and the North mound will primarily be pastoral land. Educational components will be located on the East mound, while the West mound, which temporarily reopened to accept debris after the tragic events of 9/11, will have a monument in honor of the recovery effort.

The draft master plan shows Frshkills park comprised of five sub-parks.
Courtesy: NYC Parks and Recreation and James Corner Field Operations.

While slinking through the confluence, Grassi explained how Freshkills Park has already evolved to serve the adjacent communities through an advanced landfill gas collection system. The Department of Sanitation has been harvesting methane from the decomposing waste buried under the mounds–enough to heat approximately 22,000 homes. Thanks to this sustainable initiative, the city generates approximately $12 million in annual revenue by selling this gas to National Grid.



While the park is an incredibly captivating destination, the journey is equally intriguing, sprinkled with a plethora of moments that depict different eras in the history of the island. From the rustic industrial infrastructure to scenic wildlife habitat on the isle of meadows, the AIA boat tour (http://www.sail-nyc.com/content/aiany-featured-guide-tour-aboard-yacht-manhattan) took us on a 4 hour experience through Staten Island’s natural and built history. Freshkills Park is the story of renewal and New York’s effort to restore balance and beauty back to nature.

The garbage however, still continues to flow, with its final destination now spread across four different states (http://untappedcities.com/2013/08/23/cities-101-what-was-poo-poo-choo-choo-an-overview-sewage-treatment-nyc/).

More photos at untappedcities (http://http://untappedcities.com/2014/12/10/from-trash-to-trails-a-boat-tour-to-freshkills-park-photos/)