This past weekend, Mayor Eric Adams and his team celebrated the debut of the North Park section of Freshkills Park in Staten Island, the first portion of the former landfill site to officially open to the public.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Adams and New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Sue Donoghue focused on the 20-foot bird tower and wetland observation deck that now call the park home, effectively transforming what was once labeled the biggest landfill on the planet into a desirable and non-smelly destination.
Once all of Freshkills Park is developed, the area will effectively become the second-largest park throughout all the five boroughs (Pelham Bay Park Bronx remains the reigning title holder).
In addition to taking advantage of North Park as a prime observing location for all types of wildlife, visitors will get to make use of cycling and pedestrian paths, a bike repair station, picnic areas, a composting restroom that uses no water and more. According to an official press release, the bathroom was actually designed to “turn waste back into compost to reintegrate into the earth's soil.”
“Look how beautiful this place this space is and it just went unused,” the Mayor said during the ceremony. “At one time, this became the largest landfill on the globe, filled with New Yorkers’ household garbage and people became complacent and stated that there was nothing we can do—it was ugly, it was unsanitary, there was a terrible smell coming from here. Now, thanks to the efforts of many who became before us who fought hard [...] 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.”
The project has been a long time coming: the landfill actually closed over two decades ago, back in 2001. Construction on the new Freshkills Park kicked off in 2008 and, although New Yorkers were aware that it was going to be built in phases, this is the first portion of the new destination that's finally debuting to the public. According to officials, the park is scheduled to be completed in 2036. We've got a long way to go, clearly.