Schmul Park was officially opened yesterday. This reconstructed neighborhood park is the first portion of Freshkills Park to open to the public. The reconstructed Schmul Park now features a colorful playground, new handball and basketball courts, a grass lawn, and a modern comfort station. The park design incorporated many sustainable elements including low maintenance landscaping with native plant species, reduced energy and water consumption in the comfort station, and stormwater best management practices, including permeable pavements and a rain garden. Schmul Park will serve as the neighborhood entrance to Freshkills Park for the Travis community.
There are three great events coming up this month related to Freshkills Park.
The first is the opening of a new exhibit, From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012, on the history of Staten Island at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit opens to the public on Thursday, September 13th and will be on display through January 21st. The story behind the creation of the Fresh Kills Landfill and subsequent redevelopment into Freshkills Park is featured prominently. As the exhibition description states:
Through maps, photographs, newspapers, government documents, and original artifacts, visitors will encounter Staten Island’s historical transformation and its changing roles as a farming center, as a rural retreat, as the site of rapidly residential communities, as a center for industry, and as an increasingly dense urban environment. From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012 will also enable visitors to explore current debates about land preservation, environmental sustainability, and redevelopment on the island…
Also upcoming on Thursday, September 20th is a screening, hosted by Staten Island Borough President Molinaro, of a new documentary about the transformation of the Fresh Kills site entitled The Freshkills Story. The screening is free and open to the public and will take place at 7 pm at the historic St. George Theater on Staten Island (doors open at 6:30). The film will be followed by a panel discussion with individuals who have been involved in the life of the site, including Freshkills Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh.
The one-hour documentary includes footage from when Fresh Kills was operational, details the fight led by Staten Island residents and government leaders to close the landfill, and showcases the future of what will be Staten Island’s largest park, including active and passive recreation opportunities, wind and solar energy facilities, and roadways open to the public. (View the Trailer for The Freshkills Story)
And, of course, don’t forget about this year’s Sneak Peak! It’s happening on Sunday, September 23rd, from 11 am to 4 pm and will be a great opportunity to see the incredible transformation of the park in person. There’s going to be a lot to see and plenty of family-friendly activities including kayaking, biking, nature walks, kite flying, workshops, and much more. For more information please visit the Sneak Peak website at www.nyc.gov/sneakpeak. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
A new study released this week by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that 40 percent of food produced in the United States ends up in the trash, making food waste the single largest portion of trash in our landfills. While the amount of food thrown away has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s, one in six Americans struggles to pay for food today.
And then there’s the energy used in the production, transport, processing, and disposal of the food, only for it to be thrown away. According to a study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, nearly 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from producing and processing food. At Freshkills Park, buried food waste is part of the decomposing organic material that produces Landfill Gas (LFG), a byproduct of anaerobic decomposition which is collected and processed to extract methane. The methane produced at Freshkills Park is then sold for use in providing energy to local homes on Staten Island. However, across much of the U.S., LFG- a mix of methane, carbon dioxide, and other contaminants- ends up in the atmosphere and is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
What can be done? There are many ways to prevent food from ending up in the garbage. According to NPR, new innovations in how food waste is dealt with are being developed to facilitate collaboration and changes in habits at many different scales, from food consumers to food retailers and food producers. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides a useful webpage with resources on donating food to food banks and food rescue programs.
If food must be thrown out, one alternative to the landfill is the compost bin. The New York City Compost Project provides low cost compost bins, education, and information on community-based composting projects and will be doing composting demonstrations at the Sneak Peak event at Freshkills Park on Sunday, September 23rd. In New York City, a growing number of local Greenmarkets are now also collecting food scraps for compost to use in local gardening projects and urban farms.
(via Good and NPR)
Have you ever wondered what kind of mischief a pet cat could get into at Freshkills Park? Given that household cats are non-native predators in the urban environment, one might wonder what impact, if any, the intrepid felines of Staten Island will have on the native wildlife that make their home in the restored habitats of Freshkills Park.
The debate over the impact of domestic cats, both pets and feral, on the wildlife of cities continues, though there have been few scientific studies. So Kerrie Anne Loyd, an ecologist who recently received her doctorate from the University of Georgia, and collaborators recently set out to find out exactly what our feline friends are up to when roaming the neighborhood. The researchers wanted to know how cats are affecting native wildlife like birds and rodents that share the cats’ environment.
The researchers had cat owners in suburbs of Athens, Ga., put small video cameras (redubbed “kitty cams)” around their outdoor cats’ necks. The cameras recorded everything that 60 cats did during the day. At the end of the day, the owners took off the cameras, downloaded the video footage, and recharged the cameras for the next day’s use. Each cat’s outdoor activities were recorded for about a week.
The most surprising thing they found is that the majority of the house cats weren’t hunters, said Dr Loyd. Only 44 percent of the cats in the study stalked, chased or killed other animals during the day.
Among the cats that did hunt, the most popular prey was also surprising. “The birds were a minority of the prey items,” Dr Loyd said. The cats most commonly caught reptiles, something that other studies had missed because the cats either ate the reptiles or left them behind at the kill site.
Whatever the impact of roaming cats may be, experts agree that the best thing pet owners can do for both wildlife and their pet’s own safety is to keep cats indoors.
“Cats are safer, wildlife is safer and communities are safer when cats are indoors,” said Katie Lisnik, the director of cat protection and policy for the Humane Society of the United States.
She said outdoor cats are in danger of being hit by cars, attacked by other animals or contracting diseases. The most humane way to care for cats, she said, is to keep them inside in a stimulating environment “so that they can express their natural behaviors.”
(via the New York Times)
Our third annual Sneak Peak event is just one month away!
Sneak Peak is a rare opportunity to go inside the park and preview the incredible transformation of the site. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, September 23rd, from 11 am to 4 pm, and will feature all sorts of fun things to see and do, including birdhouse building, kayaking, kite-flying, bike riding, pony riding, mural painting, bag sewing, instrument making, and much more. Plus, the famous phragmites-munching goats will be making a special return appearance! But of course, the main attraction, as always, will be the breath-taking beauty of Freshkills Park.
If you haven’t made it out to see it for yourself, this is your chance.
For more information on getting there, including free shuttle buses to and from the Staten Island Ferry St. George terminal and a free round-trip New York Water Taxi ride departing from the Battery, click here.
Though the 2012 Olympic Games have come to a close, the landscape of London’s East End has been dramatically transformed for the long-term utilizing a ecologically-based design approach that has much in common with the Freshkills Park master plan.
According to The Dirt, nearly 250 acres of formerly-industrial land were turned into a beautiful setting for the Olympic venues inspired by Victorian and post-war English pleasure and festival gardens. The landscape design, by LDA Design and Hargreaves Associates, incorporated hillocks with views of the surrounding city, stormwater management practices including bioswales and rain gardens, and new bio-habitats such as wildflower meadows, wetlands, and wet and dry woodlands. The site designers even had an Olympic Park Biodiversity Action Plan to attract native species like kingfisher, sandmartin, and European eel! The River Lea, which flows through the site, was previously canalized, but now benefits from wider, more natural banks. All of these designed landscape improvements contributed to the 2012 Olympics being heralded as the most sustainable Olympic Games yet.
Many of the same types of interventions are being incorporated into Freshkills Park, as the former landfill site is transformed into an expanse of rolling hills and restored woodlands and wetlands. Many of the native flora and fauna have already begun to return to the site!
The Olympic site in London will now be converted to public park land. James Corner Field Operations (the landscape architecture firm that created the master plan for Freshkills Park) has re-designed a 55 acre piece of the new public park, set to open in 2014 as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. According to inhabitat.com:
The redesigned Olympic Park will include a 12-metre wide tree-lined promenade that will open up to a series of outdoor “rooms”, separated by tall grasses. These active spaces will host a classic carousel, an amphitheater and a play space with a climbing wall. There will also be spaces reserved for picnics, concerts and other events.
(via The Dirt)
After the success of The Highline in New York, it seems that every city is now attempting to transform abandoned or underused public spaces into lush urban parks. Treehugger has reported on the recent developments in unusually located parks, the latest being the Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas. The 5.2 park, which is set to open this fall, is currently being constructed over a busy highway. The park itself will be built upon a deck-like structure, providing the surrounding neighborhood, and the city at large, with much needed public recreation spaces, including a pedestrian promenade, gardens, restaurants and performance pavilions.
While Klyde Warren Park represents Dallas’ admirable commitment to the revitalization and creation of urban green space, Treehugger duly notes that an even more enivronmentally and innovative friendly plan would have been if the city of Dallas had opted to convert the entire highway into a park, as they have done in Seoul, Korea.
This past weekend, Freshkills Park hosted two lively sets of visitors. On Saturday, Pack 118 of the Staten Island Boys of Scouts of America, explored the South and North Mounds of the park. This curious group of young Staten Islanders learned about the myriad of wildlife and plant species that make their home at Freshkills Park, as well as the history of the landfill and master plan. Many thanks to the pack members who have also visited Freshkills Park previously to take good care of some of the trees planted on site as part of the Million Trees NYC program.
Sunday was a glorious day for taking in Freshkills Park from the water. An intrepid group of 20 kayakers from Staten Island were led by the Freshkills Park team and volunteers from Kayak Staten Island, and paddled along the Main Creek. It was prime time for birdwatching as the kayakers saw an osprey dive for fish right next to the boats! Blue Herons and Egrets dotted the shoreline, as terns and gulls flew overhead joining the paddlers in enjoying the beautiful scenery along the Fresh Kill waterways and wetland.
Tours of Freshkills Park are free and open to the public by appointment only. If you would like to schedule a group tour please contact Michael Callery at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for more exciting public tour announcements and news on our annual preview event Sneak Peak at Freshkills Park which will take place on Sunday, September 23.
Freshkills Park bids a fond farewell to the herd of goats who have spent the past few weeks “mowing” the invasive phragmites at the North Park Wetlands Restoration Site. This quirky group of goats, with names like Mozart, Haydyn and Van Goat, not only did a fantastic job of removing the vegetation from the site, but also seemed to thoroughly enjoy their pleasant surroundings at Freshkills Park. The herd even welcomed a new member during their stay, with the birth of an adorable baby goat a few weeks ago (see our previous post about this new “kid” on the block). For more photos of all the goats in action, be sure to look back at all of our Facebook and Flickr albums.
Although the goat crew will be missed, we are thrilled to be able to welcome them back to Freshkills Park for our annual Sneak Peak event on Sunday, September 23rd, where the herd will be featured at the Petting Zoo. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook pages for more exciting Sneak Peak updates!
It is inarguable that trees are an integral component of a healthy life. Despite this fact, the case for trees in urban environments needs to be continually proven in order to prevent their elimination. As Atlantic Cities reports, the City of San Diego is setting an excellent precedent by collecting data which demonstrates the overwhelmingly positive mental and physical effects of trees on densely populated environments. San Diego County Trees has created a fascinating interactive map (with much of the information contributed by the county’s own residents), showing the precise economic and energy benefits that each tree has on its surrounding neighborhood. As the reporter Kaid Benfield explains, this kind of information becomes critical when other cities such as Washington D.C. are actively trying to reduce its tree canopy out of fear of damaged power lines and pressure from energy companies. More cities should feel inspired by San Diego’s initiative in order to make a stronger case for the preservation of trees as an essential part of their urban fabric.
(via Atlantic Cities)