On Tuesday, September 10, twelve members of the High Line staff took a trip to tour Freshkills Park in Staten Island, built on the former site of the world’s largest landfill. With 2,200 acres, the park is almost three times larger than Central Park.
Freshkills is divided into five sections, most of which are not yet open to the public. However, we were given the opportunity to look behind the scenes (and up the hills and in the meadows) with Michael Callery, one of the stewards of this amazing reclaimed site.
We learned that because of the large size of the park, it is expected to be 30 years until Freshkills will be entirely open to the public. Until then, visitors will be welcomed to the park section by section. The first areas open to the public are child-focused spaces easily accessible to adjacent communities. One of the sections – Schmul Park – was designed by James Corner Field Operations, which you may know from the High Line design team.
Enormous amounts of trash were brought to Fresh Kills for fifty years, peaking at almost 29,000 tons per day in the late 1980s. Once the site was closed , a layered "cap" was put over the sections. On top of the waste is a soil barrier, a gas-vent layer, a plastic lining, a drainage layer, a two-foot protective layer, and planting soil at the top. The gas-vent layer houses a grid of pipes which carry the methane gas produced by the garbage through filtration systems. After filtration, the gas is used to heat more than 20,000 Staten Island homes! Learn more about the landfill capping process here. Being in this beautiful park, it's difficult to imagine its history.
At 6:30 PM on September 23, come to the free talk Beyond the High Line: Transforming Fresh Kills Staten Island. James Corner, of James Corner Field Operations (a designer for both the High Line and Freshkills projects), and Eloise Hirsh, of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, will explain the plans for the 2,200 acres of varying landscape.
The possibilities for activities, events, art, exploration, and learning are endless. The park has plans for many sports fields, bird-watching towers, hiking and biking paths, and kayaking opportunities for visitors. It is exciting that a huge open area is right here in our city waiting for us to enjoy it.
Plan your trip to Freshkills now! Bring the whole family for a day of fun activities at Sneak Peak , Freshkills’ big event on September 29. Free shuttle buses will be provided from the Staten Island Ferry.