Fresh Kills on Staten Island, once the world's largest landfill, is now well on its way to becoming one of the city’s largest parks, and thanks to an agreement announced Monday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it's also becoming the city's largest source of clean energy. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
Once a garbage dump, Fresh Kills is going green in more ways than one. Not only is the site being converted to parkland, it'll soon harvest the sun's energy, as land here is transformed into the city's largest solar power installation.
"It's fitting that this site, long associated with the most stubborn challenges of urban development, will now be a shining example of cutting-edge solutions," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
On Monday, Bloomberg announced that a private company called SunEdison had been selected to build solar panels on 47 acres. The facility will be able to generate up to 10 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 2,000 homes, which will feed into the Con Ed system and double the city's solar energy production.
"It's clean energy, and it's just a start. It's just a start," said Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro. "I am certain that eventually, we'll have some windmills up here."
The project will come at no cost to the city. In fact, SunEdison will pay for use of the parkland under a 20-year lease.
"We have a design where we are blending in the generation capacity with the amenities that the park has to offer. So we'll have long walkways, and alongside the walkways, we will have the solar panels," said Attila Toth, general manager of SunEdison. "We are working very close with the city, making sure that's it's going to be an architecturally pleasing experience."
Next month, the city Department of Parks and Recreation will formally apply to re-map about 1,500 acres of the site as parkland, a critical step in the decades-long conversion process.
"First step is mapping it, but then, after that, what exactly the community wants to see on all parts of it," said Parks Commissioner Veronica White. "We have a few things that we've done already, like we bring people in for kayaking, as you may know, and there's been a road race here a couple of weeks ago. So it's, we're gradually opening it to the public."
The solar panel facility still has a lengthy environmental permitting process to undergo. If all goes as planned, officials hope to break ground in late 2015 and complete the project in 2016.