Freshkills Park Blog

Mayor Bloomberg Outlines 16 Initiatives to Make NYC Parks More Resilient

Coastal ecosystems, like sections of Freshkills Park (above), can provide a critical barrier to adjacent communities

Coastal ecosystems, like sections of Freshkills Park (above), can provide a critical barrier to adjacent communities

The comprehensive 438-page report, unveiled last week, represents the most significant series of forward-thinking initiatives and concrete proposals since Sandy. It builds on new data, also released recently by the Mayor’s office, which warns that New Yorkers will face even hotter summers, more rainfall, and more frequent major storm events. The plan, A Stronger More Resilient New York, will dictate how NYC prepares for flooding and storm surges moving forward, including challenges related to buildings, economic recovery, community preparedness, insurance, utilities, telecommunications, healthcare, transportation, and parks (pdf).

The parks chapter omits Freshkills Park specifically (Freshkills is not yet mapped as parkland), though the site’s protective attributes – its mounds and wetlands – were well recorded post-Sandy. Wetlands in particular are thoroughly extolled for their flood mitigation capabilities. Building on the critical importance of areas like Jamaica Bay, the report outlines new initiatives to support coastal ecosystems and reintroduce improved natural barriers to many sections of the 520-mile NYC coastline.

“Wetlands, streams, forests and other natural areas offer substantial sustainability and resiliency benefits. The protection and restoration of these natural areas is, therefore, of critical importance.”

Within the 16 schemes in the parks chapter, wetland restoration complements other proposals that will design new bulkheads, fortify existing piers, and relocate vulnerable infrastructure, among many other initiatives.

June 24, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bird Breeding at Freshkills

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House Wren eggs in a bird nestbox.

Last week several members of the Freshkills team assisted Dr. Mark Hauber, a professor of Psychology at Hunter College, in checking bird nestboxes in the park. Dr. Hauber is gathering data on the bird populations and breeding success at Freshkills Park, a site which has acted as a stopover for bird species along the Atlantic Migratory Flyway since the closure of the landfill. A migratory stop-over site provides safe and efficient foraging and resting opportunities between long-distance stretches of continuous migratory flights.

Dr. Hauber has been researching bird breeding at Freshkills since August of 2011, when the nest boxes were first installed in the park. He is currently monitoring two other active nestbox sites in New York City: a site in the Bronx near Hunters Point and Jamaica Bay’s National Gateway Park.  By studying these sites, the aim is to assess of the ecological value of reclaimed sites with respect to migratory bird populations. The impact of a stop-over habitat on migrating birds is difficult to detect in adult birds, therefore Dr. Hauber has focused his research on birds hatched on the site, whose health directly reflects the local environment. Dr. Hauber ‘s work will help define the differences and similarities between newly restored brownfield landscapes and areas where nesting has been long established.

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Dr. Hauber checks a bird nest for eggs.

According to Dr. Hauber’s initial findings, Tree Swallows or House Wrens are the dominant species found in the nextboxes. The newly set-up nest boxes in the Bronx and Staten Island are only 30 percent occupied,  whereas the long-standing nestbox colony in Jamaica Bay’s National Gateway Park has 75 percent occupancy. His team is also finding that more young Tree Swallow females, which have a distinctive brown coloring at the age of one, settle in boxes that are recently set-up, compared to the well-established sites. The age of nesting males is much more difficult to determine considering that all males have the same green coloring, irrespective of age. An analysis of abandoned eggshells and nestling down feathers is still underway.

On their recent trip, the team checked the 80+ bird nestboxes located in South Park and North Park. Corresponding with his initial findings, the nestboxes were found to be primarily inhabited by House Wrens and Tree Swallows. Upon inspection, it was discovered that several of the nests contained recently laid eggs, some with a single egg others contained up to seven. Dr. Hauber and the Freshkills team will be returning to the site to check on the nests and the soon to be hatched baby birds in the next few weeks.

June 19, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC Requests Bold Ideas and Creative Solutions for Resilient Waterfront Development

Aerial view of Averne-East parcel (source: Department of Housing Preservation and Development)

Aerial view of Averne-East parcel
(source: Department of Housing Preservation and Development)

To engage best practices and innovative thinking from around the world, the city has invited designers and urban planners to submit plans for an 80-acre site in Far Rockaway, Queens. The FAR ROC [For a Resilient Rockaway] competition entries will provide inventive solutions to be applied directly in the Rockaways, as well as new ideas for other at-risk waterfront neighborhoods throughout the city.

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the need for new ideas about development along NYC’s vulnerable coastline. The damage to buildings, beaches, and utility systems on the Rockaway Peninsula calls for a difficult discussion as to whether certain areas should be “rebuilt, maintained and defended, or simply abandoned.” Challenges posed by climate change, sea level rise, and increasingly frequent major storm events cannot be resolved by designers and planners alone, but new development strategies, like the ones to be tested in the Rockaways, can provide a laboratory to solicit the most innovative ideas. Submissions are required to consider the environmental and physical challenges of the at-risk site as well as the economic development, housing, and infrastructure needs of the area.

The Phase I submission deadline is June 14, 2013. The competition is organized by city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, L+M Development Partners, the Bluestone Organization, Enterprise Community Partners, Triangle Equities, and the AIA NY.

(source: http://www.farroc.com)

June 4, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Freshkills 2013 Haiku Contest Winners

 

April was National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, we asked fans of Freshkills Park to submit a haiku inspired by the park. We split the entries into two categories, Adult and Youth, and our judges selected three Adult winners and two Youth winners.

Adult Winners:

Our apologies
are returned by mother earth
with much forgiveness

-Sanchie Bobrow

As a child, I dreamed
of playing in the fields where
the great white trucks roamed

-Sanchie Bobrow

Coyote roams wild,
Man-made meadow under paw,
From lost kills he drinks.

-Frank Williams

Youth Winners:

Walking on the path
Life flourishes everywhere
How can you not smile?

-Caitlin Samargian, 12

Freshkills was a dump
Now turning into a park
That’s safe and healthy

-Samantha Chierchia, 11

The Freshkills Park Team would like to thank all who entered our contest, as well as our judges:

Ned Vizzini is the bestselling author of the acclaimed young-adult books The Other Normals, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Be More Chill, and Teen Angst? Naaah…. In television, he has written for ABC’s Last Resort and MTV’s Teen Wolf. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and Salon. He is the co-author, with Chris Columbus, of the fantasy-adventure series House of Secrets. His work has been translated into ten languages. He grew up in New York and attended Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College.

Marguerite María Rivas is a poet and scholar whose work has been published in such journals as The Americas Review, Earth’s Daughters, Waterways: Poetry in the Mainstream, and Short, Fast, and Deadly, among many others.  A native Staten Islander whose poetry and prose is often Staten Island-centric, she is widely regarded as the de facto Poet Laureate of Staten Island. The author of Tell No One: Poems of Witness (Chimbarazu Press 2012), Rivas is an Associate Professor of English at The City University of New York and holds a Doctor of Letters in English from Drew University.

Nancy Hechinger is a professor at NYU in the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she has been teaching an experimental course called Writing and Reading Poetry in the Digital Age.  Her poetry has been published in the Red Wheelbarrow, Salamander, Pirene’s Fountain, & in The New York Quarterly.

May 29, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

Composting Toilets in New York City

Prospect Park is building a composting toilet and putting to use an obsolete building. The Pump House, an unused building tucked away in the center of the park, is not connected to the New York City sewer system so traditional restrooms are not possible but with park use on the rise more restroom facilities are needed, especially in this more remote area of the park.

The toilets will not look or smell unusual, the noticeable difference is that special foam is used to flush.  Christian Zimmerman, lead landscape architect at the Prospect Park Alliance, expects that the composted waste will be removed every five years and taken to a landfill, although he hopes that the laws prohibiting the use of this manure within the city will change in the near future.  By utilizing composting technology the park is able to provide an amenity where it was needed most while also helping the city reduce the volume of sewage sent to the treatment plants.

The number of composting toilets is on the rise in New York City; The Bronx Zoo, the Queens Botanical Garden, and the Hollenback Community Garden in Brooklyn are already using composting technology.

A composting toilet facility is in the plans at Freshkills Park which is one part of an array of sustainable practices used in the parks’ development.

Rendering of New Prospect Park Restroom Facility

Rendering of New Prospect Park Restroom Facility
Photos: NYC PARKS DEPARTMENT

May 1, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First Solar Carport in New York City Comes to Staten Island

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Solar power is a growing energy source on Staten Island.  Freshkills Park, already an alternative energy source from the methane harvested at the site, will be using solar power for many of its structures in the future.  But the future is here at an office building on Edward Curry Avenue in Bloomfield in the form of solar panels that provide shade for your parked car.  No more searching for the only tree in the parking lot, now shady parking spots are created by solar panels that are working double duty: producing energy and providing shade.

The solar panels, installed by American Solar Partners, shelter 25 cars and provide roughly 5% of the power for the 80,000 square foot office building. The office building has other energy saving and resource conserving systems that earned it an Energy Star Rating, such as occupancy sensors, LED lighting and motorized solar shades that move with the position of the sun throughout the day.

The permitting process has begun for a North Park Photovoltaic Shade Structure which will provide shade for visitors sitting on benches while also generating energy for the overhead lights throughout the parking lot.

Source: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2013/03/on_staten_island_the_carport_o.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Links to similar stories:

City requires portion of energy to come from solar: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Lancaster-CA-Becomes-First-US-City-to-Require-Solar\

More on solar parking lots: http://cleantechnica.com/2010/08/03/solar-power-transforms-parking-lots-into-green-job-generators/

Solar parking meters: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/manhattan-beach-among-the-first-to-deploy-latest-generation-high-tech-parking-meters-200780051.html

April 8, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fifth Annual Haiku Contest

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Freshkills Park CELEBRATES National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month which means it is time for the fifth annual Freshkills Park Haiku Contest!  We will be celebrating by asking you to share your impressions, experiences, thoughts and ideas of what Freshkills Park is, will be, and what it means to you- in haiku form. A haiku is a type of poem written in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables for a total of 17 syllables. For example, here is one of our winners from a previous year:

Somewhere underneath
The bike paths I will ride on
My old love letters

Email your haiku, along with your name and age to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 29th

Prizes will be awarded to the top youth winner as well as the top three adult winners. If you are under 18, please indicate that you are submitting as a youth entrant. Submit for a chance to receive exclusive Freshkills Park merchandise. To learn more about Freshkills Park and to stay up to date on the latest news, visit the Freshkills Park Blog at www.freshkillspark.wordpress.com and ‘like’ us on Facebook.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Art out of Recycled Materials

Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium in Times Square is hosting a contest titled “Materials Matter Amazing Art Challenge” for New York City art students. The submissions for the contest are due in April and selected students will have their work exhibited at Ripley’s. A recent New York Times article highlighted one teacher’s creative interpretation of the prompt to develop works of art from unconventional materials.  Jennifer Merdjan, an art teacher at Bard High School Early College in Queens, is having her students make their submissions with recyclable materials.

By using this uniquely environmental spin, Ms. Merdjan’s students are presented with the opportunity to rethink waste products and develop novel approaches to reuse. Some of her students’ projects include a chandelier made from hamster tubes, a handbag sewn together with bicycle tire tubes, and even a dress made with 1,134 plastic straws!

Freshkills Park, built on the former Fresh Kills Landfill, can be thought of in the same vein.  As a repurposed landscape and a work of art,  Freshkills Park is a prime example of what can come from creative planning and restoration.

Image source: New York Times

Hamster Tube Chandelier (source: NYT)

March 21, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , | Leave a comment

Highlighting another Sustainable Park: Canal Park, Washington DC

Opening Day November 2012

Canal Park on Opening Day (November 2012)

Canal Park in Washington DC, situated between the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, was originally a canal before it was paved over in the early 1900’s for a multitude of uses, including use as a lot for idling buses. The area was converted into a park in 2000 and shortly thereafter, in 2004, the non-profit Canal Park Development Association sponsored a sustainable park design competition for the site. OLIN, a landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm was selected to design the park.

Construction on Canal Park began in 2010 and the park opened in November 2012. The new design includes many sustainable, innovative features.   Among these are underground cisterns that collect “grey water” runoff from the park and neighboring blocks to be reused in park fountains, toilets, ice skating pond and irrigation. Additionally, geothermal wells have been installed to provide heating and cooling in park amenities.

The transformation of Freshkills Park involves a similar commitment to sustainability. The Owl Hollow Fields, under construction at Freshkills Park, will have a geothermal-energy-heated, green-roofed comfort station designed by Sage & Coombe. Schmul Park, which opened in 2012 and is located in the Travis neighborhood of Staten Island, also includes many sustainable features. The comfort station designed by BKSK Architects features a rain garden and throughout the park there are native plantings and permeable pavement in order to mitigate surface stormwater runoff.

Both Freshkills and Canal Park are model examples of 21st century sustainable parks.

(via City Parks Blog)

Canal Park before revitalization (May 2003)

Canal Park before revitalization (May 2003)

Canal Park after revitalization (November 2012)

Canal Park after revitalization (November 2012)

(all images copyright : JD)

March 6, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , | 1 Comment

New York City Ranked in Top 10 Best US Cities for Urban Forests

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(image source: American Forests)

The conservation group American Forests has just released a ranking of the top 10 best U.S. cities for urban forests, and New York City made the list! After an independent collection of data on the 50 most populous American cities, a panel of technical advisors from the U.S. Forest Service ranked the cities based on their overall commitment to improving and expanding urban forests, green infrastructure, and environmental resources.

The top cities were selected because they recognize the important roles that trees play beyond beautifying urban landscapes. Among the other parameters considered by the U.S. Forest Service were community engagement around urban forests, new developments in energy conservation and stormwater management, and public access to green spaces.

“These 10 cities are examples of the type of dedication and leadership needed to improve the health and vitality of urban forests in some of the largest cities in the U.S.,” says Scott Steen, CEO of American Forests. “Whether it is achieving cleaner air and water, managing stormwater, reducing energy usage or stemming erosion, no two cities have worked exactly the same way to achieve their place on our top 10 list, but they each serve as a role model for others.”

New York City, which is more than half way to its goal of one million trees planted by 2017, has nearly 20% of its 300 square miles of land covered by parks like Freshkills Park and Central Park. With all of this green space it is estimated that more than 2,000 tons of pollution is removed from the air each year, a value of $10.6 million. New York’s commitment to providing easy access to green space is an example of the city’s dedication to sustainability, health, and the overall well-being of the people. 

February 25, 2013 Posted by | FKP | , , , | Leave a comment

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