Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Teresa Mira: Activity # 10: Freshkills Park Trip

Last week on a beautiful Wednesday by 12pm I was on the Staten Island ferry getting ready to go on a tour of Freshkills Park. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trip even after reading “Turning Trash Piles Into a Bird-Watcher’s Paradise” from the New York Times and “Wall-E Park” from New York Magazine. The title of the NYMag article along with the first picture made me almost expect a section of the park to look straight out of the movie Wall-E, despite descriptions of the park such as, “sedges and spartina grass have returned to the tidal estuary, and we see muddy tidal flats, lowland swamps, and drier, prairielike fields.” On the bus ride to the park Doug began telling us about the park and its creation and continued the story throughout our tour.
The landfill turned park we visited was open from 1948 until 2001. That’s over 50 years of garbage now under huge mounds. It’s incredible how all of that garbage is hidden underneath the mounds and made safe to be used as a park. There are layers of various materials separating the waste and the grass to make the park safe. There is a soil barrier layer just above the waste followed by a rocky gas vent layer. This gas vent layer allows the gas and leachate that are by products of the waste to be released without reaching the surrounding environments. There is then a tick plastic drainage layer to prevent rainwater from reaching the waste, two feet of soil called barrier protection material and another six inches of planting soil. This layering allows for the covering of the waste to be safe for the land to be used as a park. Standing on top of the mounds it was crazy to think there was even any waste underneath you, the grass and trees made it seem natural, the only odd part were the gas wells. These wells trap the landfill gas that is released and travels through the gas vent layer and redirects the gas to a plant where the gas is burned to be sold as natural gas. There are also ideas for windmills to be built on the mounds to supply energy. The dilemma they are having with this plan is the issue with the stability of the windmills being built on top of a landfill.
Standing on the mounds and looking around is amazing. There are great views of the city from the top of them. This aspect is part of what is going to make this park truly amazing. There are also a lot of interesting birds that reside in the park and I’m sure more will wildlife will become present as the park nears completion. While on the tour we saw a bird in a nest over the river, I don’t know what it was called as I know nothing about birds. It was very cool to see the mother with her eggs and possibly just hatched babies; it was hard to see into the nest, as it was high up. When the park opens, the wildlife will certainly be interesting to see, especially for bird watchers who can already experience a tour on Sunday mornings.
When the park is finished, they have huge plans for it. The separate mounds are all going to have their own special functions. The mound where they buried the materials from 9/11 is going to be the site for passive recreation, such as hiking and horse trails, cross country skiing and of course some form of memorial to 9/11. There are going to be mutli-use paths and fields where all types of recreation can take place on the other mounds. Various sporting fields will open as well including soccer fields, which will open next summer. Playgrounds will be opened as well throughout the park including one near Travis that is also planned to open next summer. The preserved wetlands and river area will be the site of canoe and kayak launches. The completion of this large project, however, is far in the future, approximately 30 years if everything goes according to plan. It will be very cool to go back when it opens and say that I saw it when they were still building it and I’m sure will go a long way.

Freshkills North Mount Looking At The City

Diagram of the Park's Infrastructure from the Freshkills Park Site Tour Guide

Freshkills Park Site Plan, 2006 from the Freshkills Park Site Tour Guide

No comments:

Post a Comment