|Location||Staten Island, New York, USA|
|Area||2,200 acres (8.9 km2)|
|Operated by||NYC Department of Parks & Recreation|
Freshkills Park is a landfill reclamation project in Staten Island. About 2,200 acres (8.9 km2), it purports to be the largest park developed in New York City in the past 100 years. Its construction began in October 2008 and is slated to continue in phases for at least 30 years. When fully developed, Freshkills Park will be the second-largest park in New York City and 2.7 times the size of Central Park in Manhattan. The park has been designed for five major sections that accommodate a range of uses, including cultural, athletic, and educational programs. Sections of the park will be connected by a circulation system for vehicles and a network of paths for bicyclists, pedestrians, and equestrians. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) is running the project with the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
International design competitions
In 2001, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) held an international design competition following the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to find a landscape architecture firm to design the park. The competition's first round was open to all participants, and in August 2001, six landscape architecture proposals were chosen as finalists. These proposals came from the firms James Corner Field Operations, Hargreaves Associates, Mathur/da Cunha, Tom Leader Studio, and John McAslan + Partners, RIOS Associates, Inc., and Sasaki Associates. The plans proposed by all the finalists are  from the Department of City Planning.
In 2003, Field Operations was selected as the winner of the competition and was hired to produce a master plan to guide long-term development. The Draft Master Plan was prepared over the following years and released in March 2006.
Additionally, in 2011, the Land Art Generator Initiative announced Freshkills Park as the site for its upcoming design competition, LAGI-NYC 2012. Although construction of the winning design is not guaranteed, the initiative hopes to bring international attention to the aesthetic potential of renewable energy infrastructure.
Draft Master Plan
The Draft Master Plan for Freshkills Park envisions the site as five parks in one, each with a distinct character and programming approach. It amended Field Operations' original design proposal with input gathered in meetings and workshops between the project team and local Staten Islanders, nonprofit groups, and government officials. Goals emerging from the outreach efforts and integrated into the park design include: roads to ease traffic congestion surrounding the Fresh Kills site; active recreational uses such as kayaking, horseback riding, and sports fields; and projects generating and using renewable sources of energy. The planning process also included the input of a Community Advisory Group consisting of local leaders and stakeholders.
70 acres (280,000 m2) at the meeting point of the site’s two creeks have been designed as the center of the park. Comprising two major sections, the 50-acre (200,000 m2) Point and the 20-acre (81,000 m2) Creek Landing, the Confluence will host visitor and information centers, restaurants, event spaces and landscapes for passive recreation. Waterborne access to the area has been proposed via the waterways that previously permitted barge deliveries to the landfill.
The 223-acre (0.90 km2) North Park will retain much of its natural character in order to expand the neighboring habitat of the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge. North Park will largely be devoted to wildlife and passive recreation, though trails for biking, walking, and hiking will also be included. This area will feature a few architectural structures for birdwatching, shade for a hilltop picnic area, an eco-education center, and a floating dock for canoe access.
Schmul Park Softball field was created in part for neighborhood children to play baseball or softball without restrictions. Recently many softball organizations have rented permits to allow league games to be played on the field. Since the demographics are different then most fields there are many modifications and rules for game play that varies from other fields. Most rules are based on the umpire(s) managing the game. The one rule which is mostly favored by many umpires are when balls are hit into the woods. Many people would think if a batter hits a ball out of play in the outfield that it is ruled a home-run. However; the woods are so shallow that the decision is ruled a ground ruled double.
South Park, like North Park, contains a significant amount of natural woodland and wetland, but also contains ample flat, non-wetland space for more active recreational uses. The master plan for this 425-acre (1.72 km2) site programs tennis courts, mountain biking trails, athletic facilities, and an equestrian center. Construction of the Owl Hollow soccer fields, at the southern edge of South Park, began in October 2008.
East Park, at 482 acres (1.95 km2), is proposed to host meadows, trails, playing fields and picnic areas. A golf course is also being considered in this area as a means to generate revenue for operations. Entrances to a vehicular road system along Richmond Avenue are expected to permit traffic through East Park toward the West Shore Expressway.
After the World Trade Center (WTC) attack of September 11, 2001, 1.2 million tons of material from the WTC was brought to the West Park site where it was carefully screened and sifted. The search effort did not end until all discernable remains and effects were removed and taken to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York for identification and safekeeping. A monument to the events of September 11, 2001 is planned to occupy West Park. Active recreational uses will be kept away from the monument area.
In October 2012, Schmul Park, the first of the Freshkills Park projects opened to the public. Formerly an asphalt and chain-link fence playground, it was converted into a park with new play surfaces, basketball and handball courts, permeable substrate and concrete, and native plantings. In April 2013 the Owl Hollow Fields celebrated a "soft" opening for the four new AstroTurf fields located near the intersection Arden Ave and Arthur Kill Rd. Two of the fields are lit at nights for extended use.
Environmental impact statement
The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation completed and released the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) for the Freshkills Park project in May 2009. The document evaluates the entirety of the proposed project and its likely effects on the neighboring community. In compliance with state and local law, the FGEIS is designed to identify "any adverse environmental effects of proposed actions, assess their significance, and propose measures to eliminate or mitigate significant impacts". A Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was also completed in October 2009, which specifically focuses on the impact of proposed road construction through the East Park section of the plan and examines alternatives to the current plan.
While Freshkills Park continues its development, DPR and the Freshkills Park team have hosted events and programs including active recreation on site inside restricted areas. The highlight of these programs is the project's annual Sneak 'Peak' at Freshkills Park where visitors have had the opportunity to kayak, bike, hike, and fly kites on a closed section of the park.
Landfill operations and state regulations
The Fresh Kills Landfill actively received New York City’s municipal waste from 1947 to 2001. Two of the four mounds at the site—the mounds located in North and South Parks—were capped in the late 1990s with an impermeable cover separating waste from the environment. Capping of the East Mound, which will become East Park, began in 2007 and was completed in 2011. Capping of the West Mound will begin in 2011 and proceed until 2018. DSNY works with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to meet regulations for environmentally sound landfill closure. DSNY will also maintain operating responsibility for on–site environmental monitoring and control systems for a minimum of 30 years after capping. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation must also meet NYSDEC’s regulations—no area of the park is permitted to open to public access until it meets state standards for public access.
- Freshkills Park Vision, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
- "John McAslan + Partners | Conservation and Regeneration". Mcaslan.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Postings: Design Competition for Transforming Fresh Kills Landfill; Planning Ahead, Looking Back, The New York Times, October 28, 2001. Accessed November 23, 2009.
- "Fresh Kills - Department of City Planning". Nyc.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Project Description Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement. 2009. Accessed November 2009.
- Draft Master Plan Overview, New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), Draft Master Plan. Accessed January 7, 2010.
- Fresh Kills Park Project, New York City Department of City Planning (DCP), Community Input. Accessed November 30, 2009.
- Plan for the Confluence, DCP Draft Master Plan for Freshkills Park. 2006. Accessed November 2009.
- Plan for North Park, DCP Draft Master Plan. 2006. Accessed November 2009.
- Plan for South Park, DCP Draft Master Plan. 2006. Accessed November 2009.
- Plan for East Park, DCP Draft Master Plan. 2006. Accessed November 2009.
- Slepian, Stephanie (October 4, 2012). "Staten Island's Schmul Park, a gateway to the future Freshkills Park, to open Thursday". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- Generic Impact Statement and Supplemental Impact Statement, DPR. Accessed November 30, 2009.
- Executive Summary DPR Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. 2009. Accessed November 30, 2009.
- Freshkills Landfill Turns a New Leaf Monica Ashford. Scienceline. 19 September 2008. Accessed 14 December 2009.
- Newsletter, Freshkills Park. Fresh Perspectives. NYC Parks http://www.nycgovparks.org/pagefiles/48/newsletter_winter12.pdf
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- Public Health & Safety DPR. 2009. Accessed 14 December 2009.
- Freshkills Park: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation information section
- Freshkills Park Blog
- Video: Inside Freshkills Park, 2009