This Urban Park Is Being Revitalized

Project launched to transform Staten Island’s Freshkills into a beautiful space.


This Urban Park Is Being Revitalized | Project launched to transform Staten Island’s Freshkills into a beautiful space.

Staten Island’s Freshkills, once a dumping ground for New Yorkers, is now a breathtaking park. The first phase was opened to the public in October, according to MSN. With its meadows, hills, and waterways offering hiking and superb bird watching, this is a beacon of light in urban habitat restoration. 

Freshkills, called “The Dump” by locals and known for its stench, was in operation for 53 years. It was the world’s largest dumping ground and was so huge, it could be seen from outer space! Freshkills was closed 22 years ago, and 21 acres of it were opened mid-October in a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Mayor Eric Adams.

“This area has become a new green space that is home for local plants and animals and gives the residents of Staten Island a place to be outdoors, exercise, and breathe fresh air,” Adams told MSN. The newly opened park features walking paths, hiking trails, seven acres of native seed plots, a bird observation tower, and a deck that overlooks the hills, meadows, and waterways. 

A breath of fresh air for New Yorkers
This is literally a breath of fresh air for New Yorkers and for the planet. With the addition of this revitalized urban green space, 85 percent of New Yorkers will now live within walking distance of a park, according to this City of New York press release.

This project is entirely focused on environmental stewardship. Solar panels will provide lighting in the parking lot and restrooms, while the toilets are composting, returning waste to soil. “This transformational project will serve as a model for land reuse projects around the world and a shining example of how restoring habitats can benefit wildlife in urban areas,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said in the press release.

A complex system was installed to decompose the landfill waste and to protect the new topsoil, according to CNN. Mounds of garbage were capped by thick layers and an impermeable liner, while rainwater is redirected away from the waste. Atop the barriers sit a layer of sandy soil and planting topsoil. There are also plans to reuse the gas and liquid byproducts of the decomposing waste. 

There was once 29,000 tons of trash dumped daily at Freshkills. Today, the site is totally transformed, home to 1,000 acres of grassland habitat that was seeded with native grass mix. This is attracting many birds that have not been seen for years, including the threatened sedge wren. Nature lovers can also observe osprey, hawks, foxes, and turtles, according to MSN.

Three times larger than Central Park
The Parks Commission anticipates the park will be fully open in 2036 with some 2,200 acres of grasslands, meadows, and waterways. When this day comes, it will be three times larger than Central Park.  

Over the years, more than 60 percent of grassland habitats have been destroyed in North America, according to CNN. Grasslands across New York City were drained and paved, while in the case of Freshkills, they were filled with trash. As a result, the birds simply vanished.

Freshkills is a much-needed oasis for birds and wildlife. “The habitat is the thing that defines where that bird is,” Cornell scientist Andrew Farnsworth told CNN. 

Today, thanks to hard work, investment, and determination, the birds and the wildlife are back. Instead of avoiding this place because of the stench, locals will come to Freshkills to relax, connect with nature, and hear the soft trill of a sedge wren, happy to be back home.   

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