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Thread: New York's Newest Parkland - Fresh Kills

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    Default New York's Newest Parkland - Fresh Kills


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    September 30, 2003

    In Latest Nod to S.I. Voters, Mayor Has Plan for a New Park

    By MICHAEL COOPER

    Memo to Staten Islanders: If you want to keep getting goodies from City Hall, keep telling pollsters you are unhappy with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It seems to be working.

    The mayor, a Republican who cannot afford to lose Staten Island if he wants to win re-election, keeps showing up there bearing new projects. Yesterday he announced that the city is planning to develop a plan to build a park on the site of the recently closed Fresh Kills landfill, which for many decades was the final resting place of trash from the rest of the city.

    The announcement offered Mr. Bloomberg the chance to utter what is fast becoming the city government equivalent of the old "Saturday Night Live" mock-newsflash about Francisco Franco's still being dead: "No, we are not going to reopen the landfill."

    It also gave the mayor the opportunity to summon bucolic images of what is one of the most sensitive locales for Staten Islanders: a garbage dump site that is so large it can be seen from space.

    With lean times for the city, the era of costly pork seems to have passed. But Mr. Bloomberg has found a number of projects for Staten Island that may help him there politically without busting the city budget.

    This month alone he has flown to Wisconsin to christen a new Staten Island ferry that was named after the popular former borough president Guy V. Molinari. He inaugurated the new Ocean Breeze fishing pier — which was financed before he took office — by catching (and releasing) a fish. And he announced that the city would seek a developer to build new housing for the elderly.

    As Staten Island's borough president, James P. Molinaro, said yesterday at the mayor's news conference, "I like when he comes over, because he makes these great announcements."

    For the mayor, the electoral math is simple. Mr. Bloomberg, who carried Staten Island by nearly four to one in 2001, cannot afford to lose the good will of Staten Island voters if he wants to be re-elected in 2005.

    But Staten Islanders have been vocally unhappy about his decision to raise property taxes to balance the budget. The mayor has been at loggerheads with James S. Oddo, a Staten Islander who leads the small Republican delegation in the City Council. And there have been murmurs that Representative Vito Fossella of Staten Island is considering challenging the mayor in a Republican primary.

    So there was the mayor, with large color photo illustrations on easels at a news conference at the College of Staten Island, talking about the distant future of a garbage dump. One of the illustrations — imagine Monet using Photoshop — showed a creek running through a green belt dotted with red flowers. Another — an Andrew Wyeth-like depiction of "Fresh Kills" — had a cyclist riding through a windswept golden field.

    Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that the garbage piled at Fresh Kills is still producing methane gas, so it is not yet safe to cycle over or canoe through. "It will be decades before all of this land is available for people to safely go on it," he said.

    But he said that it would be irresponsible not to start planning for the future now, and that parts of the site that were not used as a dump could be reclaimed in a matter of years. To get a start, the city has hired Field Operations, an urban design and landscape architecture firm, to begin the "conceptual design" of a future park, he said.

    The mayor said that the $3.38 million planning phase is set to be completed in June 2005.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    The Architects Newspaper http://www.archpaper.com/news/FreshThrills.html

    Game Plan

    Once the world’s largest landfill, Fresh Kills is on its way to becoming the city’s newest playground. Aric Chen reports on how a concept becomes a master plan.

    In late 2002, the landscape architecture and urban design firm Field Operations publicly unveiled its schematic entry, alongside those of five other finalists, in a competition to transform Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill into New York City’s—indeed, the country’s—largest urban park. Back then, the office (which moved to New York from Philadelphia last year) was criticized for describing its plan in obscure language, for example, explaining it as “not a loose metaphor or representation [but] a functioning reality, an autopoietic agent.” However, last month, at a city-sponsored community meeting to review Field Operation’s winning submission, called Lifescape, the enigmatic “lines (threads),” “surfaces (mats),” and “clusters (islands)” gave way to more proletarian propositions as attendees suggested everything from dog runs and boathouses to windmill farms and, oddly, a working cattle ranch for the master plan now being cobbled together for the sprawling, 2,200-acre site.



    Held at Holy Trinity-St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in the Bulls Head section of Staten Island, the March 24th gathering, also attended by city officials and Field Operations principal James Corner, brought together more than 300 members of citizens groups and enthusiasts of apparently every conceivable inclination. Representatives of local bicycling, tennis, and other amateur sporting interests, nature buffs, and family members of World Trade Center victims chimed in on the activities, amenities, and (yes, another) 9/11 memorial that will eventually occupy the site. Their proposals ranged from the odds-on tennis courts, ball fields, and bike paths to a less-promising horticulture school and a landfill museum that would enshrine the earthmovers that have sculpted Fresh Kills’ topography for the past half century. “The key to the success of Fresh Kills’ transformation is the engagement of the community,” said city planning commissioner Amanda Burden, whose agency is overseeing the master planning process. “A lot of people showed up to the meeting and I was delighted with the range of suggestions.”

    Indeed, Corner’s original plan—a collaboration with Princeton architecture dean Stan Allen, whose involvement is now subsidiary—has already taken on a more accessible vocabulary, broken down to the neatly understood categories of habitat, circulation and, especially, activity. With housing specifically precluded, the finished park will be some combination of wildlife preserves, roads and trails, and recreational and cultural facilities. And while it’s easy to imagine that many of the ideas put forth at the recent forum—a cemetery for New York state servicemen, for example, or the inexplicable cattle ranch—won’t be realized, it’s likely that many others will. There is, after all, plenty of space.



    At more than two and a half times the size of Central Park, the proposed park will nearly double the size of Staten Island’s existing and adjacent greenbelt. At the same time, it will recast the world’s largest landfill—famously visible from space—as the world’s largest landfill reclamation project. While Corner, who also chairs the landscape architecture and regional planning department at the University of Pennsylvania, cites several precedents for such a conversion—former landfills around San Francisco, in Seoul, Korea, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens—none quite match the scale and scope of this one. “It’s a big site,” he said, undaunted, “and there are many challenges, both ecologically, politically, and in terms of implementation.”



    Fresh Kills, which takes its name not from its contents but the Dutch word for the creeks that meander through it, is, beyond its stigma, an ecosystem of woodlands and tidal marshes carved out by an Ice Age glacier. It was opened in 1948, intended as a temporary, three-year dumping ground. Despite over 50 years of accepting the bulk of New York’s household garbage—a tenure that ended in March 2001 in a gesture by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to solidify the island’s conservative voting base—it remains home to a diversity of wildlife and vegetation. Six sizable landfill mounds, ranging in height from 90 to 225 feet, comprise 995 acres, or around 45 percent, of the total site. All are, or will be, capped with an impermeable plastic liner and topsoil, as well as drainage and other systems to collect methane released from the decaying waste, which will be sold as heating gas. Public use of these mounds, however, will have to wait until such gases and other byproducts have dissipated and the decomposing heaps have settled. For the larger mounds, this could mean a reduction in height of up to 100 feet over as many as 30 years.



    In the meantime, dry lowlands make up 35 percent of the site and much of it is available for more immediate use. In addition to the types of recreational functions already mentioned, these areas are being considered as potential homes for equestrian and other facilities in the city’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Concurrently, a central drive is in the works that will loop around the main fork in the Fresh Kills estuary. This artery, which will connect Richmond Avenue to the West Shore Expressway, will relieve existing traffic congestion while drawing people into the heart of the park just as a network of walkways, paths and ancillary roads disperses them throughout. “In the original scheme, we had more centralized activity areas,” Corner says, “and now they’re more widely distributed, which makes the plan easier to phase in, and in smaller pieces.”



    The veterans’ cemetery proposal notwithstanding, Fresh Kills in fact became a cemetery of sorts when it was temporarily reopened after September 11th to accommodate remnants from Ground Zero. A memorial is being planned as well. Corner has designed two earthworks, 40 feet high and in roughly the dimensions of both World Trade Center towers, next to the 48-acre area where the debris, and the victims’ remains within, are buried. The simple, poetic design has already been well received, though it’s still subject to debate and at least one group, the World Trade Center Families for Proper Burial, may see it as altogether unnecessary. Its members are arguing that the debris should instead be resifted—at what would likely be enormous expense—and the separated remains reburied at a more appropriate site.



    Though the feasibility of this request is questionable, it nevertheless points to the exorbitant complexity of the task at hand. Politically— and now emotionally—charged, the site faces formidable obstacles in its own evolution from being a colossal, fetid eyesore to becoming a thriving, even idyllic, example of land reclamation. Further public meetings are being held this and next month (details are posted on the city’s Fresh Kills website, www.nyc.gov/freshkills), with a final master plan scheduled for July 2005. Small portions of the new park may open as early as 2007. However, even if the plan sails through the often-thorny processes of community and regulatory involvement, the park will take decades to phase in. There are the technical, environmental and even psychological challenges in turning a former garbage heap with poor soil into a verdant haven for picnickers, not to mention the fact that cost, funding, and final jurisdiction have yet to be determined. Indeed, Fresh Kills’ redevelopment will require a will matched only by an ambition that is as expansive as the site itself.

    ARIC CHEN LIVES IN NEW YORK AND WRITES FOR ID, METROPOLIS, GQ, ART & AUCTION, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS.

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    June 14, 2004

    Landfill, Park...Final Resting Place?

    By ANTHONY DePALMA


    The master plan for the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island calls for a pair of earthworks in the shape of the twin towers.

    It is surely one of the city's most unloved places. Just the mention of its disquieting name, Fresh Kills, makes some people hold their noses and others clutch at their grieving hearts.

    This is not just the place where, for more than 50 years, the rest of the city has sent its potato peels, broken dishes and every kind of household trash. For several months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, the sad bits of busted buildings and broken lives were sifted on mound 1/9 of Fresh Kills, piece by shattered piece.

    Fresh Kills was the world's most colossal dump when the city closed it in early 2001. And now that the Department of City Planning is developing a master plan for turning its 2,200 acres into a vast and innovative new park, it is could become the world's most controversial trash heap.

    The problem is not how many soccer fields to build or whether to plant oak trees or magnolias. Rather, a battle is looming over a comparatively tiny area of the vast landfill and the city's intention of preserving the painful memories of what happened here.

    There plan actually calls for two areas where Sept. 11 would be memorialized. One area, which is widely approved, would have a pair of monumental earthworks the length and width of the twin towers lying on their sides and pointed toward ground zero. They would be built on 84 acres on top of the landfill mound known as 1/9. There, 1.62 million tons of debris from ground zero were separated and sifted on conveyor belts as investigators searched for victims' remains. All the material that came off the belts was taken to another part of the mound.

    Under the plan, visitors would be able to take a somber walk up the wedge-shaped embankments atop the 240-foot mound of trash, and, by walking the length of the towers, reflect on the scope of the tragedy that killed 2,749 people.

    There is an additional 48 acres on top of mound 1/9, adjacent to the earthworks site, where the material from ground zero that was left after the sorting is buried and a memorial to the victims might be built. The members of the families of some victims are anguished by the possibility that even the most minute particles of the remains of their loved ones might be entombed on top of a garbage dump.

    "When the planning commission asked us what kind of memorial we wanted there, we wrote back to say we never want a memorial," said Diane Horning, of Scotch Plains, N.J., whose son, Matthew, was killed on 9/11. She would support the earth works monument to the rescue workers and the work they did there, she said, "but not a burial ground for our loved ones."

    Although it covers 132 acres, not even a tenth of the 2,200 acres in the Fresh Kills tract, the area used for the trade center recovery effort has already forced the designers into an awkward situation.

    Mrs. Horning and other relatives say they believe that the cement dust and pulverized glass from the collapsed buildings are mingled with blood, bone and human ashes. Collectively, those particles are called fines, and the families consider them sacred. Mrs. Horning said she had been told that the fines would be kept at Fresh Kills only temporarily, but the city abruptly changed its mind and buried the fines in place. Mrs. Horning helped found a group called WTC Families for Proper Burial that is collecting signatures - it has more than 35,000 so far - in support of removing the material from the mound and burying it at ground zero or some other area with more dignity than the top of a landfill, even one that may one day be included in a park.

    "We would rather bury pulverized concrete in a respectful place," she said, "than to have our loved ones left with the garbage."

    But the Bloomberg administration has consistently opposed the idea of moving the fines. Besides the huge cost of removing more than a million tons of material, officials insist that all identifiable human remains have already been removed. Sanitation officials say the area is scheduled to be covered with more fill and regraded by the end of this year.

    Few people are as familiar with the fines as James Taylor, chairman of Taylor Recycling Facility of Montgomery, N.Y., which sorted through 550,000 tons of the 1.6 million tons brought to Fresh Kills.

    "You bring tears to my heart when you make me talk about this," Mr. Taylor said, "but is there human beings in that powder material? Absolutely. There's 2,749 spirits theoretically in that fines material."

    "And you just wouldn't go to Fresh Kills landfill to have the ashes spread around."

    James Corner, the Philadelphia landscape designer whom the city selected to develop the Fresh Kills master plan, has gotten a quick course in the dynamics of decision making in New York.

    "A year ago, we did not know about differentiation between the recovery area and the area where the materials are buried," he said. "We now understand this to be these two components, one monument honoring the rescue workers and the recovery efforts, the other yet to be determined."

    When planners meet with victims' families this summer to discuss options for the site, they are likely to hear from some families who are willing to allow the remains to stay where they are. Dennis J. McKeon, chairman of the World Trade Center Outreach Committee of St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church in Great Kills, which helped the families of 150 victims from Staten Island, said a number of people in his group felt that if there were any remains at Fresh Kills, "this is their final resting place."

    He added that the whole area was intended to become one of the biggest parks in New York City.

    According to the Fresh Kills master plan, the park could eventually have miles of bike trails and winding canoe watercourses, lush green ball fields and rugged natural areas strewn throughout an area two and a half times the size of Central Park.

    But to Paul Geidel, a retired fire lieutenant from Staten Island who lost his son Gary, 44, also a firefighter, on 9/11, Fresh Kills will always be an unacceptable place for a memorial.

    Recovery workers never found the remains of Mr. Geidel's son or some 1,200 other victims. He says he feels that the fine dust on mound 1/9 contains the only remains he will ever have, and he wants them in a proper place where he can pray for his son.

    "It just turns my stomach that he would be left in a garbage dump," he said.

    Staten Island residents have generally applauded Mr. Corner's vision of a future without the stench and the seagulls of the dump. They have urged quicker action on new roads and athletic fields but stopped short of commenting on the memorial, preferring to leave that to the families.

    Although Councilman Michael E. McMahon of Staten Island said he, too, wanted to see families' wishes respected, he feels it would be "just impossible to remove everything from the site."

    He said many of the objections to leaving the fines in place came from Mrs. Horning and others who live outside Staten Island. "They have misconceptions of what the area looks like now," he said.

    But Mrs. Horning said she knew exactly what it was like on top of the mound, where workers found her son's wallet and identification card - and no other remains. She visits about every six weeks, but being there provides no tranquility.

    Although officials told her that only clean fill was covering the fines, she and other members of her group have seen, and photographed, plastic bottles, old shoes and chunks of steel lying on the ground.

    Every day, more than 300 dump trucks crawl up the spine of the mound to unload the construction debris that will form a permanent cap over the area where material from ground zero was sifted. But so far, the trucks have skirted the plateau where the fines are buried.

    Mrs. Horning said she feared that the city might quietly begin the process of permanently capping that portion of the mound, too, making it nearly impossible to ever move the fines that she believes contain her son's remains.

    That is why she will continue to make the long trip to 1/9 as often as she can. "I go not because I find it peaceful, or because I can connect with my son there," she said. "I go as a watchdog."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    I'm sorry, but does anyone else think this is getting out of hand? Why not bronze the dump trucks that brought the debris there and put it on top of the FT?

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    Not about the subject but I just had to point this out:

    There plan actually calls for two areas where Sept. 11 would be memorialized.
    Son of an English teacher.

    As for the landfill, I guess it would be best if the park was developed around that site and the place stay unchanged for debate.

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    Proper English and keeping right except to pass are rapidly becoming lost skills.

    No comment on the landfill.

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    February 24, 2005

    NATURE

    From Ruin and Artifice, Landscapes Reborn

    By ANNE RAVER


    At Fresh Kills, James Corner, a landscape architect, envisions crop fields and walking trails.

    HE name Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who built Central Park when Fifth Avenue was no more than a dirt road, is often on the lips of landscape architects these days.

    Trained as a civil engineer, Olmsted had no qualms about moving tons of rock and soil to build the artificial hills and streams in the fake wilderness that he knew urban dwellers would hunger for, long after the real forest was cut down.

    Now his heirs stand on rooftops, parking garages and old dumps recalling not his pastoral landscapes, but his vision: that a great park will bring development and economic prosperity. And that it takes time.

    "Fresh Kills will be three times as big as Central Park," James Corner, a landscape architect, said last week, standing on one of the highly engineered mounds of capped garbage at that former landfill, which sprawls over 2,200 acres on Staten Island. Mr. Corner's firm, Field Operations, is designing and building the park.

    It took 53 years to build these mountains of garbage. It will take at least 30 years to build up the thin soil that covers them, enrich its sparse habitats and create the amenities - from meandering trails to ball fields and restaurants - to draw visitors.

    "Cities are clamoring for distinctive open space projects," Mr. Corner said. "Politicians are beginning to see that grand public projects, while they may have a high price tag, can yield real dividends in terms of a city's competitive edge."

    Fresh Kills is one of 23 landscapes featured in "Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape," which opens tomorrow at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition, organized by Peter Reed, a curator in the department of architecture and design, documents a sea change in landscape architecture.

    No longer the handmaidens of architects, landscape architects are building huge parks, some on a 19th-century scale, on polluted industrial spaces like Duisburg-Nord, the former Thyssen Steelworks in the Ruhr district of Germany. Here, Peter Latz, a German designer, has embraced the old blast furnaces as monumental memories of the past. Rock climbers scale the ore bunkers, scuba divers swim in the old cooling pools, gardens and wild weeds bloom.

    In the exhibition catalog Mr. Reed acknowledges Gas Works Park, in Seattle, designed in the 1970's by Richard Haag, as the precedent for Duisburg-Nord and others. Seattle had hired Mr. Haag to draw up a master plan for the 20-acre park, assuming that the leftover gas plant would be razed. "The ground was very polluted," Mr. Haag recalled. "The buildings were boarded up, the place was fenced off. It was a desperate, desolate place."

    But he was attracted to it. He camped out among the ruins, and he pored over the old records. He searched for the power of the place.

    "I'm always looking for the most sacred thing on the site," Mr. Haag recalled. "But there was no forest or a brook. I thought, 'I'm going to save those two towers, whatever I do.' "

    He spent the next 30 years trying to convince city officials and the Environmental Protection Agency that over time, aerating the soil and growing plants would clean waste from the soil. That was long before phytoremediation - using plants to do just that - had filtered into universities and public works departments.

    For more than 30 years a heavy wire fence has kept people from wandering among the towers. Now, thanks to the lobbying of local parks advocates, the award-winning park has been designated a landmark by the city and state.

    And last year Seattle's City Council voted to fix the towers and take down the fence.

    "We hope it can be done by the Fourth of July," Mr. Haag said.

    Groundswell also examines the extraordinary plazas that are transforming small, derelict spaces in cities. In Rotterdam, for instance, Adriaan Geuze, the director of West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, has turned the roof of a parking garage into a lively, uncluttered space.

    "Rotterdam had been bombed during the war, so every building is new and has a lack of identity," Mr. Geuze said, speaking from his office in Rotterdam. He looked to the city's port for a vital sense of self.

    "We thought the new square could be a recollection of the port, so we created the mosaic floor using old material from boats and pontoons and decks," he said. There are oversize, comfortable benches waiting for the readers, the lovers, the spectators.

    "We created a public space as a void," Mr. Geuze said, knowing that people would fill it: actors, musicians, peddlers, soccer players. There are no trees here either. The world has way too many "shallow landscapes, with every square meter filled with benches and beautiful plants," Mr. Geuze said.

    Groundswell also takes a look at Weiss/Manfredi's design for the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park, to be completed next year. Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, who are based in New York, sought to connect Seattle back to its waterfront through the construction of a zigzagging land bridge that spans a highway and railroad and joins three separate pieces of land.

    The eight-and-half-acre site, built on an old gas storage and transfer station, descends 40 feet to the water, where the old sea wall is to be removed to allow salmon to spawn on submerged, algae-covered terraces. Works by artists like Alexander Calder and Richard Serra will be as much a part of the landscape as the Western cedars and aspen, planted to evoke the Northwest forest. And the design makes no attempt to hide the infrastructure.

    These new parks sit comfortably among the traffic jams and city lights.

    Up on the grassy mound at Fresh Kills, Mr. Corner looked down on the surprisingly clear creek. He could see the rush hour traffic crawling soundlessly south on the West Shore Expressway; the Bayonne Bridge arching westward to New Jersey, the Manhattan skyline to the north, Long Island stretching east into the hazy Atlantic.

    Mr. Corner wants to put scrims around the towers of the flare station, which collects methane gas from the capped mounds. "We would light them at night," he said. "You would see them like lanterns in the black void."

    Just as Mr. Haag planted clover at Gas Works Park, Mr. Corner will plant cover crops like mustard, rapeseed and kale, which not only help clean pollutants from the soil but actually build organic material.

    "Over three or four years we could add four to six inches to the soil," Mr. Corner said.

    That's the beginning of what he means by "growing" a landscape. And just as poplar and red oak move into old fields, these mustard fields will evolve into a far more diverse habitat of plants and countless other species.

    Mr. Corner's team will build a memorial to the thousands of workers who cleared the remains of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. He pointed to the highest mound, where two earthworks, the height and width of the towers, will be laid on the ground.

    "You will walk up one at a 6 percent incline, then turn and walk up the other," Mr. Corner said. "It's an anti-monument, in the sense that the real experience comes through walking."

    It will take the average person 15 minutes, walking through wildflower meadows and under a big sky and a horizon as far as the eye can see.

    "When you get to the top, the highest point on the site, you'll be on axis to Manhattan," Mr. Corner said.

    The towers are still shockingly absent from that skyline. But here, on top of the old dump, where landscape architects are helping nature reclaim the site, it's a good place for healing and reflection.

    Groundswell casts a wide net, from Staten Island to Beirut, to remind people of another ancient role of public places, as sacred sites. But the rowdy, joyful public square is back too - on Rollerblades, on the wastelands.

    "Groundswell" runs through May 16 at the Museum of Modern Art: (212) 708-9400.


    Landscape architects like Mr. Corner, standing in the Fresh Kills garbage dump on Staten Island, are designing parks on polluted industrial sites.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    April 8, 2006
    A New Scenic Destination: That's Right, It's Fresh Kills
    By SEWELL CHAN

    Forget the liquid ooze from New York City's garbage, slowly seeping downward, five years after the last load of trash arrived at the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Don't mind the methane gas, which is slowly percolating underground and which the city hopes to harness someday to create electricity, and revenue.

    The city's Department of Parks and Recreation will offer monthly bus tours, starting at the end of this month, as part of the effort to transform Fresh Kills, once the world's largest landfill, into a vast park with picnic grounds, athletic fields and a giant earthen monument to the Sept. 11 victims.

    "This is a great way for New Yorkers to understand the spectacular potential of Fresh Kills to become the great park of the 21st century," the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said yesterday. "Being on top of any of the mounds gives you a view unparalleled anywhere in New York City. You have the feeling of being on an alpine meadow."

    Those mounds, of course, were formed by tons of trash that accumulated over 53 years. The plan to transform the once-smelly landfill into a park took a major step forward this week, with the completion of a draft master plan that will guide construction on the 2,315-acre site.

    The plan, released on Thursday by the Department of City Planning, envisions five park areas to be built over 30 years: a 100-acre core, to be called the Confluence; a small North Park for the residents of the Travis neighborhood; a South Park with varied terrain for mountain biking, soccer and horseback riding; an East Park with a golf course, a freshwater marsh and large art installations; and a West Park with long-distance trails for running and even skiing, as well as the 9/11 monument.

    To get there, the planners must first erase the old image of Fresh Kills.

    "No one could really see Fresh Kills when it was a landfill," said James Corner, a British landscape architect and urban planner who is the chief designer of the new park. "All they saw was the trash trucks and the sea gulls, and they smelled the stench. If you could get visitors now and put them in a car or bus to go for a drive around, they're totally blown away and surprised by their worst expectations being supplanted by something that's actually pretty scenic and beautiful."

    Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning, who oversaw the plan, said the past few tours have helped to stimulate public interest in the park. "The rolling wetlands, the hills and the views are just breathtaking," she said. "It is one of the most glorious sights, already, in the entire city, and it is totally unique."

    Ms. Burden said that Fresh Kills and the High Line, a 1.5-mile defunct elevated railway on the West Side of Manhattan that is also being turned into a park, were "the major legacy projects of the Bloomberg administration."

    The master plan is the most detailed version of a proposal first put forward in 1996, when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced the closing of the landfill, the city's major repository of residential solid waste since 1948.

    The landfill received its last load of trash in March 2001, but the closing of the site, which is still controlled by the Sanitation Department, was delayed for a year because it was kept open to accommodate the debris from the Sept. 11 attack. Two earthworks, the length and width of the World Trade Center towers, are planned for the southwestern part of the site.

    Although Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has committed $100 million in city money to the project, only a small part of the park will be open by the time he leaves office at the end of 2009. Three soccer fields, known as the Owl Hollow and covering 35 acres, are to be completed by 2007, at a cost of $6.5 million.

    In a nod to the car-reliant culture of Staten Island, the plan then calls for seven miles of park drives, connecting Richmond Avenue to the busy West Shore Expressway, to be mostly completed by 2009.

    The former landfill occupies 45 percent of the nearly four square miles of the park area. The rest is made up of wetlands, marshes, creeks, tidal flats, open meadows and woodland.

    The project is enormously complex from an environmental standpoint because of the decades it takes for trash to decompose. Of the six giant mounds of trash at Fresh Kills, three have been covered with a thick, impermeable cap, and the remaining three are to be fully capped between 2008 and 2011.

    The next step in the park's development is an environmental impact statement, to be completed by the summer of 2007. After a land-use review, the master plan will be finished and construction will start in 2009.

    Not everyone is a fan of the park. Benjamin Miller, a former Sanitation Department official, has long criticized Mr. Giuliani's decision to close Fresh Kills without an alternative landfill or incineration plan to replace it. The city pays at least $300 million a year more than it did when Fresh Kills was open, as a result of having to pay trucking companies to haul garbage out of state, he said.

    "I believe it is the most irresponsible decision a mayor of New York City has ever made, in terms of the long-term fiscal and environmental impacts," Mr. Miller said.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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    June 25, 2006
    From Landfill to Landscape, a Staten Island Cinderella Story Still Unfolding
    By ANDY NEWMAN

    The tour bus crawled up the winding gravel road in low gear. On both sides, the views stretched through the drizzle toward infinity, green, green, as far as the eye could see. A light blanket of fog enhanced the sense of splendid isolation.

    Two hawks swooped low over a hillside; just beyond the border of the road, a fat, bejeweled ring-necked pheasant strutted in the wet grass. One of the passengers, Charles Fallon, piped up from the back seat, "This would be an excellent place for meadowlarks."

    This excellent place was Fresh Kills on Staten Island, former site of the city garbage dump, future site of the city's largest park. Currently, the place is pretty much empty, which is what drew about 20 tourists yesterday morning to the Parks Department's first public tour of the 2,200-acre parcel.

    "I wanted to see the before and after," said Ann Pisano, 67, who grew up five miles from the dump, the smell of rotting trash never far from her nostrils.

    The city plans to offer the tours twice a month. More information is at nycgovparks.org.

    As the bus reached the summit of the south mound, 200 feet above the surrounding marsh, a city park ranger, Brian Kasper, explained that the city had laid down 14 feet of fill and soil since the dump was closed in 2001. "It's a long way down till you get to something garbage-related," he said.

    The bus stopped and the tourists fanned out along the hilltop and gazed across fields of grass and mugwort, chicory and fleabane flowers. To the southeast lay one of several dense housing developments that have been built near the landfill, but in most directions the view was something like a landscape painting of the French countryside, with a few methane-burning stacks and office trailers standing in for stone farmhouses.

    "It's a lot better than I thought," said another native islander, James Lonano. "It almost looks like a parkland already."

    There were a few out-of-towners on the bus. Ms. Pisano brought along two of her grandchildren, visiting from State College, Pa. They looked miserable. There was also a three-man crew from Omaha making a documentary about waste. The 23-year-old auteur, Henry Phelps, traveled cross-country for three months this spring, carrying every bit of garbage he generated in a clear plastic bag on his back. He seemed a little disappointed by the absence of visible trash.

    Fresh Kills Park will be nearly triple the size of Central Park and is expected to take more than 30 years and hundreds of millions of dollars to complete, though the city intends to open parts of it to the public starting next year. The plan for the park includes cycling trails, tennis courts, greenhouses, stables, birding platforms, a sports stadium and a 9/11 memorial — an earthen sculpture as long as the twin towers were tall, to be built on the mound where rescuers sifted through the World Trade Center wreckage.

    Sgt. Anne Reid, another ranger, said that the hilly parts of the park would be seeded with native plants and trees. "Not like Central Park, which has all exotic ornamentals," she added with a touch of disdain.

    The bus wound on past a runoff pond dappled with mallards and egrets, crossed over Richmond Creek, black and swollen after recent rains, and discharged its passengers again at the top of the north mound.

    Charles Stoffers, a retired stockbroker and active bird-watcher, strolled to the edge of the gravel and returned. "If you get far from the bus," he reported, "you can catch a little whiff of what it used to be like: rotting cabbage."

    Then it was back on the bus and down past a paved lot covered with corrugated-steel garages and land-moving equipment.

    "This is the main area where the restaurants and boat launches will be," Mr. Kasper said. "Some of the machinery will be left behind sort of as an added bonus, to show people what it was like. Some of the barges that used to take trash out will be floating gardens."

    As the bus headed back toward civilization, Ms. Pisano wondered what the area would have looked like if the dump had never existed. "All this would be homes now," she said. "It's a good thing."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    At Fresh Kills, James Corner, a landscape architect, envisions crop fields and walking trails
    I think they should stay away from Crops and stick to landscapes, you could not pay me to eat something grown there.

  12. #12

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    ^ agreed, strongly.!!!

  13. #13

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    New York Magazine
    January 25, 2007

    You'll Be Able to Frolic in a Staten Island Dump Sooner Than You Thought


    What the dump can look like in twenty years. We particularly like the windmills.

    That plan to turn Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill — the city's enormous garbage dump, shuttered in early 2001 by Giuliani and briefly reopened to warehouse World Trade Center detritus — into a giant park will take a decade to complete, the city is now saying. (And, hey, take your time, guy. Last thing we want is to dig up a patch of benzene with our cleats.) But we can't help a little giddiness to learn that we'll actually be able to play soccer on Fresh Kills in a little more than a year. According to park administrator Eloise Hirsh, the 2,200-acre project will go through intensive environmental review this year — but one soccer field, Owl Hollow, sits outside the actual landfill and is currently being bid out to contractors. Park officials are still designing the bathroom (insert stupid gas jokes here), but construction should begin — with tours of the site — by spring. —Alec Appelbaum

    Copyright © 2007, New York Magazine Holdings LLC.

  14. #14
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    CHANGE THE NAME!!!!!!


    Maybe "Fresh Mills"?

  15. #15

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