Freshkills, the famous gargantuan former landfill a park? Hard to believe, but true. The city carefully transformed this controversial site into an important asset for Staten Island, New York City and the region. Now that the landfill is nearly covered with protective caps and grass, the site is actually a remarkably beautiful place.
New York’s new parkland at Freshkills will be one of the most ambitious public works projects in the world, combining state of the art ecological restoration techniques with extraordinary settings for recreation, public art, and facilities for many sports and programs that are unusual in the city. At 2,200 acres, the site is 2.5 times the size of Central Park. It has the potential to become an international model of creative reuse that will transform how we experience vast, reclaimed urban landscapes.
Only 45% of the Fresh Kills site is landfill. The rest is creeks, wetlands and open fields. 995 acres of the 2,200-acre site are composed of six landfill mounds, which range in height from 90 feet to 225 feet. 760 acres of the site, an area nearly equal to Central Park, have never been filled with garbage or were filled more than twenty years ago. These flatter areas and open waterways host many things, from precisely engineered infrastructure to intact wetland and wildlife habitats.
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 its unusual combination of natural and engineered beauty, including creeks, wetlands, expansive meadows and spectacular vistas of the New York City region.
Five Parks in One Freshkills Park will have five main areas: the Confluence (made up of Creek Landing and The Point), North Park, South Park, East Park and West Park. Each area will have a distinct character and programming approach.
The Confluence is the cultural and waterfront recreation core of the park, sited at the confluence of Richmond Creek and Main Creek and encircled by the park road. Two developed areas along this loop are the main activity sites in the park:
Creek Landing (20 acres) will be designed for waterfront activities, including an esplanade, canoe and boat launch, restaurants, a visitor center and a large event lawn for gatherings, picnics and sunbathing. The area will also allow for ample car parking and will be a central point of arrival and departure of park users.
The Point (50 acres) is designed to accommodate sports fields, event spaces, lawns, artwork and educational programming. A long promenade along the water’s edge will support restaurants, a banquet facility and an open–air market roof. Old machinery and artifacts from Fresh Kills Landfill operations will act as outdoor sculptural pieces, and the old barges will be re–imagined as floating gardens. The promenade will be a vibrant social place with seating, fishing piers, a boat launch and great views across the water toward the natural beauty of the nearby Isle of Meadows.
North Park (233 acres, max. elev. 150 ft.) will be characterized by simple, vast natural settings—meadows, wetlands and creeks. Adjacent to the Travis neighborhood and overlooking the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, the area will feature paths and trails for walking, running, bicycling and skating encircling the northern mound. Scenic overlooks and spaces for picnicking, catch–and–release fishing and bird–watching will be provided.
South Park (425 acres, max. elev. 140 ft.) will provide large natural settings and active recreational spaces, including soccer fields, an equestrian facility and mountain biking pathways. Adjacent to the Arden Heights neighborhood, South Park will also host picnic areas, fields and trails. The area is also large enough to house a major sports and recreation center for track and field and/or swimming. The hilltops lend spectacular views across the site and into the distance.
East Park (482 acres, max. elev. 135 ft.) will be defined by the park road that extends from Richmond Avenue into the heart of the site and connects to the West Shore Expressway. The park drive will be sensitively designed as a scenic route integrated into the landscape. The Richmond Avenue side of East Park has been conceptualized as a nature education area with specially designed wetlands, boardwalks and exhibits and public art installations. The large mound in this area lends itself to a variety of recreational uses, from golf and field sports to archery, informal pickup games, frisbee and picnicking.
West Park (545 acres, max. elev. 200 ft.) hosts the site’s largest mound, with the West Shore Expressway to the east and the Arthur Kill to the west. An enormous earthwork monument is envisioned atop the mound in remembrance of the September 11 recovery effort that occurred in this location. Set on a vast hilltop wildflower meadow, the earthwork would be open to the sky and offer spectacular 360–degree views of the region, including a direct line of sight to lower Manhattan.
By the way, "Kill" is a word of Dutch derivation meaning a stream or creek.
There are no events taking place on this date.