Staten Island Week: Locals Fight To Keep Former Landfill For Park Usage
For more than a half-century, Fresh Kills in Staten Island was home to the world's largest landfill, but more than a decade after its closing, the old dump that is slowing transforming into a park made headlines when the city proposed setting a new garbage facility there. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci continues NY1's Staten Island Week coverage with the following report.
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Stand along a strip of the busy Richmond Avenue and one can see lots of traffic and the Staten Island Mall.
Turn around, however, and it's a different story — miles of hills, bodies of water and tons of flourishing landscape.
Soon, drivers will be able to cut through the former Fresh Kills landfill from Richmond Avenue, helping alleviate the borough's traffic and finally allowing drivers access through the park.
"It's in preliminary design right now. We have a contract out for that and that will yield us both a preliminary design and a feasibility assessment as well as a really solid cost estimate," says Eloise Hirsh of the Parks Department.
It's been a painstaking 10 years since the landfill was closed back in 2001. A slowing economy has halted progress, as has the exhaustive permitting process that is required to transform a landfill into a park and make it safe for the public.
Much of the capping of the landfill mounds has been complete and the Parks and Sanitation Departments are now working to replace gas wells used for mining natural gas with manhole like structures. That will make the wells safe from the public and the public safe from them.
Soon, residents can enjoy at least one new park at the site, as Schmul Park is expected to open to the public sometime this summer. The new park and playground will eventually serve as the neighborhood entrance to the former landfill.
What's now gone is the stench that used to permeate the dump for miles.
It is in that vein that the borough's elected officials fought so hard earlier this month against a city proposal to site a waste-to-energy plant at the landfill. The idea of bringing garbage back to Fresh Kills drew so much protest from island officials that the city withdrew the former landfill as an option, much to the relief of local residents.