“It’s about the rebirth of a place that had such negative connotations in the past. Now it will be the exact opposite,” said New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sue Donoghue.
The first accessible section of North Mound looks like a normal park at first glance. Visitors can enjoy meadows, trees, a lake, a lookout for birdwatchers, benches, and about a kilometer of walking and biking trails. According to the official information brochure, deer, herons, turtles and goldfinches live here, among others.
However, the northern mound is only about one percent of the total area that Freshkills Park will once occupy. According to plans, it is to be almost three times the size of Central Park.
The stench and filth of Staten Island’s disgrace
The saltwater marsh, where children went to swim in the summer, was turned into a landfill in 1948. Then, for more than 50 years in the middle of Staten Island, it was the largest garbage dump in the world, according to the commissioner.
By 2001, a total of around 150 million tons of waste had landed there, mostly from households in the New York metropolitan area. Garbage gradually piled up in mountains, sometimes taller than the Statue of Liberty, which towers nearby on another island.
With garbage came stench, traffic, and a bad reputation for Staten Island. Residents of other parts of the city often sneered that the entire island was just a dump. In 2001, the landfill was closed with the hope of turning the site into a public park. More than 20 years later, the first part was opened to visitors.
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