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 29th, Freshkills Park opened its gates to the public for the fourth annual Sneak Peak event and attracted 3,500 people, a steady increase from previous years.
They came on bikes, on ferries, and in cars; with family, with friends. A girl from Brooklyn says, “This is a strange place. It does not feel like we are in the city at all.” Indeed, the tall yellow grass, the rolling hills, and the hawks in the sky seemed like neither the city nor the previous landfill site.
In the central area, a miniature horse pulled kids around for five minute rides. The goats that helped eat the site’s invasive phragmites, bleated at passerby. Families lounged on wooden-crates, as Staten Island artists transformed the stone bridge with spray paint. In the distance, a giant rock wall supported climbers of all ages; kayakers took boats into the river.
For a quieter experience, people trekked to the Overlook, a high point where they could see the Manhattan skyline. Or, on a steeper path, they climbed to the top of North Mound and flew Freshkills Park kites.
Art, nature, food and clear skies: we couldn’t have asked for a better day! Now, to start planning for next year’s Sneak Peak… In any case, stay posted on Freshkills Park happenings, and if you missed Sneak Peak this year, there’s always next year. Park tours are also available from April to November:
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:
The bike paths I will ride on
My old love letters
Email your haiku, along with your name and age to email@example.com 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.
In 2010, two years after its closure, Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport was reopened to the public as Tempelhofer Freiheit, a large city park just two miles south of the city center. Since it’s reopening, little has been done to the airport’s landscape; existing walkways are largely disconnected and only minimal infrastructure and amenities are in place. However, with Gross Max and Sutherland Hussey Architects declared as the winners of the 2010 international design competition, and with Tempelhofer Freiheit selected as the location of the 2017 International Horticultural Exhibition, the new park will be well on its way to completion by 2017.
The planning principles behind Tempelhofer Freiheit combine themes of education, integration, efficiency, economy, health, and innovation, which will be evident in the repurposing of Tempelhof’s infrastructure. The southern portion of Tempelhofer Freiheit will include incubation space for clean technology businesses, the old terminal will act as a large event space, which may even include the New Central and Regional Library of Berlin, which leaves the center of Tempelhofer Freiheit available for year-round public use.
The ultimate goal of the designers is to build a landscape that parallels the individualism and dynamism of Berlin society. They propose that the best way to do so is to appoint curators to annually redesign the message of the park. According to the Wall Street Journal, the designers would like the park to function as an “outdoor living room” and “a contemporary prairie for the urban cowboy,” while reflecting the ideas of such diverse thinkers like Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, and Dolce & Gabbana. At over 900 acres, the former Tempelhof Airport will become a distinct recreational landscape for Berlin and an inspiration for innovative adaptive reuse projects all over the world.
Stapleton, a neighborhood of Denver, Colorado has released an innovative plan to turn the decommissioned Stapleton Airport into a 4,700 acre mixed-use sustainable development. The planning for this development started more than 10 years ago after the completion of the nearby Denver International Airport, which effectively replaced Stapleton International Airport. Currently, even with less than half of the construction complete, 4,000 of the 8,000 single-family homes and 4,000 apartments have already been purchased. Alongside the housing developments are 12 million square feet of office and retail space, nine schools, and 1,100 acres of reserved park space with 36 miles of trails.
Working with developer ForestCity, the Stapleton community has reinvented a problematic site. Stapleton will provide the city of Denver with a major infusion of residential, commercial, and green space. The redevelopment of Stapleton International Airport is part of a global phenomenon – around the world, from Austin, Texas to Hong Kong, cities are creatively reusing old airports.
Though Stapleton Airport and Freshkills Park have much different histories, they share the mission of writing an alternate future by transforming overlooked and underutilized spaces into local and regional destinations.
For more than 20 years, Department of Sanitation New York City worker Nelson Molina has curated a collection…of trash. Call it a gallery, a collection, or a museum, Molina and other Sanitation workers have transformed an unused room in an Upper East Side sanitation facility, located on 99th Street between First and Second Avenues, into a showplace for found art in collected trash.
Though the sanitation workers are not permitted to keep anything from trash collection for personal use, this special scenario has been ok’d by the powers that be. The collection has become so well known that Sanitation workers from outside the neighborhood bring Molina items they deem ‘art’ or, at least, interesting, and Molina then decides if and how to display the pieces.
This is truly a great example of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’
The Department of Sanitation is a partner, along with the Department of Parks & Recreation, in the creation of 2,200-acre Freshkills Park, which is being built over the course of 30 years on NYC’s former landfill.
(via The New York Times)
A San Francisco company is spurring local urban agriculture by turning organic waste into mulch, and giving it away for free. Bayview Greenwaste collects plant waste for a fee, grinds it into mulch, then gives it away to any organization that wants it, including nonprofits, municipalities, private citizens, schools, and power plants.
The high-quality mulch allows grassroots organizations to move community garden projects forward. Hayes Valley Farm is an urban agriculture site that has benefited from Bayview Greenwaste. Built on the site of a former freeway ramp that was torn down, Hayes Valley Farm utilized mulch from Bayview Greenwaste at no cost and used a process called ‘sheet-mulching‘ on the soil, which was “polluted, choked with weeds, and lacking in nutrients.” Hayes Valley Farm is just one of many public, private and community-based entities that has benefitted from this model.
A closed landfill in Canton, Massachusetts plans to implement solar power infrastructure that will generate $16.3 million for the city. The landfill sat unused for over 20 years when city officials decided to build a solar array on the site that will include 19,844 solar panels, citing the relatively low investment and significant return. Additionally, this system involves a ‘non-invasive’ mounting system that was developed to prevent landfill cap disturbance. City officials reported the solar generation won out over other options because of the return on investment and relatively short timeframe – one year from construction to operation.
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)
Eel populations are making a comeback in the metropolitan region and along the eastern seaboard. After years of rehabilitation of the area’s waterways, eel populations are showing signs of a resurgence in Staten Island.
Joining the work of the American Eel Research Project, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has set up a testing site in Staten Island’s Richmond Creek, one of the improved waterways.
Richmond Creek, a prominent waterway on Staten Island, originates by La Tourette golf course east of Freshkills Park and weaves its way through the new park to the Arthur Kill on the New York-New Jersey border. An article by the Times cites improved waste management methods as a major reason why the eels have repopulated the cleaner waters – the closure of the landfill significant among them.
The eels, a vital element of the local ecosystem, migrate from the Sargasso Sea near Puerto Rico to various locations along the eastern seaboard. Upon reaching their reproductive age at about 10 years, they return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. Adults will only make the trip once in their lifetime.
(via New York Times)