A restoration project 15 years in the making has reached its first major milestone, as the first section of New York City’s new Freshkills Park has just opened on the site of what was once the world’s largest landfill, AP News reports.
New York City is home to over 8 million people, and until 2001, Staten Island was their dumping ground. The 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Landfill accepted barges of trash from all over the city, accumulating waste for over 50 years.
But in 2001, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani finally closed the landfill, and after several years of uncertainty, the site’s restoration began in 2008.
As of October 15, the first section of the park is finally open to the public, AP News reveals. The 21-acre North Park section has paths for both pedestrians and bikes, plus a deck overlooking the park so visitors can enjoy the view. Bird watchers will love the new viewing tower, and anyone concerned about the environment will be happy to hear about the site’s waterless, composting restrooms.
A restoration project like this one illustrates the incredible capacity humanity has to reverse damage done to the environment with enough concentrated effort. To take the site of a landfill, full of decades’ worth of hazardous waste, and turn it into a beautiful, peaceful park is an incredible challenge, but it’s within our capabilities.
In a press release on October 16, New York City Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said, “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. We are thrilled to welcome the residents of Staten Island and beyond to take in the beautiful wildlife and scenery and enjoy all that North Park has to offer.”
More sections of the park will continue to open as the work progresses, according to AP News. The entire project is set to be completed in 2036, 28 years from the time it began and 35 years after the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill.
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