The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its cleanup plan for Gowanus Canal. The Brooklyn Canal, bound by Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, was declared a Superfund site in 2010 and communities have long been pushing for its cleanup.
Judith A. Enck, the EPA Regional Administrator, said:
“The cleanup plan announced today by the EPA will reverse the legacy of water pollution in the Gowanus. The plan is a comprehensive, scientifically-sound roadmap to turn this urban waterway into a community asset once more.”
One-hundred and fifty years of industrial activity has left the waterway filled with PCBs, PAHs, coal tar waste, heavy metals and volatile organics, and poisoned both the water and fish. The cleanup will take 8 to 10 years and, even then, swimming and fishing would be ill-advised. However, the effort initiates a process of ecological revitalization and sets a precedent that holds companies accountable for their actions.
If this federal decision pulls through, its long term benefits, in terms of residential health and re-investment in the NY Harbor area, are immense.
On September 15, 2012, the Museum of the City of New York will inaugurate an exhibition entitled From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661-2012. Through the display of a treasure trove of maps, photographs and objects, the exhibit will explore Staten Island’s rich 351 year history and it’s transformation from a rural to urban landscape. A major portion of the show will be devoted to redevelopment of the Freshkills Park site from a landfill to a green city park. Stay tuned for the Museum’s special interactive website which promises to provide a wealth of exciting information pertaining to the various stages of Staten Island’s growth.
As work on Manhattan’s Second Avenue subway line progresses, those viewing the massively scaled operation may wonder, “where does all the excavated dirt and rock go?” In the past, the ‘muck’ from expanding subway lines and other construction projects has contributed to the building of Ellis Island, Governors Island and Battery Park City, among other city landmarks – including the expansion of the Manhattan shoreline. Crushed rock from the 7 train extension was used in the construction of Owl Hollow Fields at Freshkills Park on Staten Island and material from the Second Avenue line is being used in the construction of the Ferry Point Golf Course in the Bronx. Material from the Long Island Railroad expansion under the East River was used in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Additional waste is processed and sold for construction and landscaping by private companies.
(via City Atlas)
A recent look at a centuries-old landfill – the eighth hill of Rome – presents new insight into the variety of uses and cultural identities reclaimed landfills today might strive toward. On Places, architect Michael Ezban explores the history and current status of Monte Testaccio as an integral part of the Roman urban fabric. As a depository for the shards of millions of olive oil-transporting clay vessels, known as amphorae, Monte Testaccio reached a height of over 100 feet throughout several centuries. Because of its composition, this otherwise inactive landfill has become an active and useful part of the urban landscape in the centuries since. It has been a material stockpile, housed wine cellars, served as a setting for passion plays, competitive festivities, and military training, and hosted a wide range of both marginalized populations and commercial activities at its base.
In Ezban’s article, Freshkills Park is mentioned in particular as an example of modern reclamation that similarly “integrates multiple functions and constituencies” in its design.
As a historical model, Monte Testaccio provides a particularly interesting case study, reflecting the many possibilities inherent in contemporary aspirations to transform waste landscapes into productive, multivalent spaces.
(via Places: Design Observer)
This Monday Gelf Magazine, an NYC-based independent webzine “looking over the overlooked”, will host Geeky Garbage, a discussion about one of the most overlooked aspect of our daily lives — waste. On hand will be former Freshkills Park Talks lecturers Robin Nagle (DSNY anthropologist-in-residence) and Howard Warren (expert on the Barren Island/Dead Horse Bay), with Max Liboiron, a trash artist and pollution activist. Be sure to read Gelf’s interview with Nagle for a preview of what to expect.
The discussion will take place at The Gallery at LPR and is free of charge, though donations are encouraged.
Monday, February 20th | 7:30 p.m.
The Gallery at LPR
158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
Our friends at Discard Studies highly recommend this Thursday’s book launch for Samantha MacBride, author of the recently released Recycling Reconsidered: the Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action (MIT 2012). The listing notes that Samantha’s book “offers a critical yet supportive appraisal of the historical development of recycling in the United States, looking at both materials flows and social significance of this meaningful ecological activity”.
MacBride will be joined by Harvey Molotch (Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and Sociology at NYU), Robin Nagle (Director of NYU’s John W. Draper Program in Humanities and Social Thought) and Jeremy Friedman (Manager of Sustainability Initiatives at NYU’s Sustainability Office). Wine and cheese will be on hand. Be sure to RSVP so that they know how many to expect.
Thursday February 9th | 6:00 p.m – 8:00 p.m.
Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor
Tuesday night’s talk at the Arsenal by Marty Bellew was a terrific history of landfills in New York City, culminating with the story of Fresh Kills. The context of other landfills really brought home the outsize scope of operations at Fresh Kills–no other site in the city even came close to the same acreage and garbage volume. We could hardly believe that the West Mound, now just over 200 feet tall, was originally projected to max out just past 600! And we were amazed to hear about successful searches for lost valuables among the many tons of garbage. A very entertaining and informative evening. Our thanks go to Marty and to the crowd who braved the weather to hear him and to ask some good questions afterward.
The Freshkills Park Talks lecture series continues tomorrow evening, at the Arsenal in Central Park, with Martin Bellew, the man responsible for ensuring environmental compliance during the closure of the Fresh Kills Landfill. Mr. Bellew began working for the New York City Department of Sanitation in 1983 and worked his way up to oversee the closure of several of the city’s incinerators and landfills. He will discuss the engineering feats, environmental challenges and daily operations at Fresh Kills that he oversaw during a period that involved major shifts in landfill regulation and environmental policy.
Mr. Bellew now serves as Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation for the City of Yonkers, New York, as well as Deputy Commissioner of Public Works.
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 | 6:30-8pm
@ The Arsenal (in Central Park)
830 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan
3rd Floor Gallery
FREE | No RSVP necessary
This Wednesday evening, the Staten Island Greenbelt Nature Center hosts its annual meeting, coupled with a book launch for the recently released High Rock and the Greenbelt: The Making of New York City’s Largest Park. The book chronicles the history of the Greenbelt’s formation. The evening will include a question and answer session with Steve Cain, newly appointed Greenbelt Administrator and Greenbelt Conservancy executive director.
Wednesday, October 19 | 7pm
@ the Greenbelt Nature Center
700 Rockland Avenue, Staten Island
Over the course of the various stages of its history, a wide range of professionals have spent time working on or thinking about the Freshkills Park site: sanitation workers, engineers, equipment manufacturers, scientists, policymakers, architects, designers, artists, philanthropists. There are countless layers of expertise to mine in understanding the site. Sneak Peak will offer glimpses into five particular domains through a series of guided walking tours led by experts with varying insights into the history and operation of the site.
Walking tours will scale the North Mound at Freshkills Park (the eponymous ‘peak’) and will last about 45 minutes each. Guests are also welcome to walk unescorted on the three miles of path throughout the duration of the event. The walking tour schedule for the day is:
11:15 am | SOCIAL HISTORY AND ACTIVISM
guided by Patrick Nugent, PhD candidate, American Studies, George Washington University
12:15 pm | ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION
guided by Joe Berg, Senior Ecologist, Biohabitats, Inc.
1:15 pm | LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
guided by Tatiana Choulika, Associate Partner, James Corner Field Operations
2:15 pm | LANDFILL ENGINEERING & MANAGEMENT
guided by Robin Geller, Program Manager for End Use Development, Waste Management Engineering, NYC Department of Sanitation
3:15 pm | PARK PLANNING
guided by Michael Marrella, AICP, Director, Waterfront & Open Space Planning, NYC Department of City Planning