A special ceremony took place Monday, marking an important day in Staten Island history: March 22, 2001, the day the city closed the Fresh Kills Landfill.

A memorial stone now marks what was once one of the highest points in the landfill.

For 53 years, the city dumped its trash here. The former dump is now being turned into Freshkills Park.

What You Need To Know

  • The city closed Fresh Kills Landfill on March 22, 2001

  • The former landfill site is being transformed into Freshkills Park

  • Freshkills Park will be the city’s second largest park, spanning 2,200 acres
  • Phase One is expected to open later this year. It’s expected to be complete in 2036

"All the work that was done 20 years ago was an investment in now, an investment in the future, an investment in this place being publicly accessible,” said Staten Island Deputy Borough President, Ed Burke. “Eventually, people are going to be able to come here in great numbers.”

It’s a massive green space, including wetlands and recreation area that will span 2,200 acres. Wildlife like birds, fish, deer and foxes are once again flourishing.

Sustainability, science and nature lessons on how waste is processed have already been added to the curriculum in Staten Island schools.

"I want them to understand that it's their personal responsibility,” said Freshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh. 

“You have choices. You can choose the kind of packaging that your stuff comes in. You can choose to do composting. You can choose to separate your garbage.”

“One of the other things we stand on today is the  promise of a new hope. And the promise of more educated and conservation savvy New Yorker, “ said DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson.

The park will open in phases. Phase One was supposed to open this spring but was delayed because of the pandemic  It will now open later this year. It includes a bird tower, a wetlands observation deck and picnic areas.

Other phases will include hiking and kayaking areas and a marina.

"Making it available for the public to experience, it is really going to be the tremendous benefit for all New Yorkers, “ said Deputy City Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.

The city has already allocated about $60 million to this park, hundreds of millions more will be needed to complete it. The park is scheduled to be finished in 2036.