Sure, we all love Central Park, but Freshkills Park is set to eclipse it in both size and the wide range of recreational opportunities that will be available (check out the slideshow above to see what some of them will be). The park will also offer ecological restoration and cultural and educational programming, including possible demonstrations teaching the public about renewable energy, that will echo its environmental mission. About 45 percent of the planned park site was once used for landfill operations, but the remainder of the land is currently composed of wetlands, open waterways, and unfilled lowland areas. The full transformation and build-out will continue over the next 30 years, with phases over the next few years focusing on providing the public with the opportunity to see the interior of the site, which will be a unique combination of natural and engineered beauty. One of the coolest examples of what people will be able to experience is standing atop the landfill mounds themselves to check out a breathtaking view of lower Manhattan.
Freshkills will also be a showcase for sustainable strategies, some of which are already in place. The NYC Department of Sanitation is already using advanced landfill gas collection infrastructure throughout the landfill to actively harvest methane from the buried decomposing waste. The methane is sold to National Grid to heat close to 22,000 homes on Staten Island and the city generates approximately $11 million in annual revenue from the sale of the methane. In addition to turning farts to fuel, some of the other strategies the city is considering for the park are solar panels, wind turbines, solar thermal cells in water heating systems, geothermal heating and cooling, and following LEED building principles.
A brief history of Freshkills Landfill: Fresh Kills Landfill was established in 1948, before there was any large–scale development in the area. Over the years, it became the largest landfill in the world, amassing most of the household garbage collected in New York City. To give you an idea about how much trash was coming into the dump, at its peak, Fresh Kills received as much as 29,000 tons of trash per day and the four landfills mounds on the site are made up of approximately 150 million tons of solid waste.
By 1997, two of the four landfill mounds were closed off and covered with an impermeable cap. Freshkills received its last barge of garbage on March 22, 2001. New York City’s garbage is now shipped to landfill locations in places such as Pennsylvania and Virginia.