New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue today opened the North Park section of Freshkills Park in Staten Island — the first section inside the former Fresh Kills Landfill site to open to the public. Once fully developed, Freshkills Park will be the second-largest park in the five boroughs and serve as an enduring symbol of urban renewal.
“I vowed before taking office that under an Adams administration, Staten Island would no longer be the forgotten borough — and with today’s opening of the first section of Freshkills Park, we continue to deliver on that promise by providing Staten Islanders with another place to exercise, breathe fresh air, and be outside,” said Mayor Adams. “What was once an eyesore is now becoming a world-class park that will serve the residents of this borough for generations to come, and that will, once fully complete, become the second largest park within the five boroughs. Today’s announcement is just another way that we are creating an environment that is better for our wildlife, better for New Yorkers, and better for our planet. I take my hat off to Parks Commissioner Donoghue for her leadership in stewarding this project across the finish line and for encouraging everyone to take advantage of this beautiful new green space.”
“Freshkills Park is a marvel of sustainable reclamation, and the opening of the North Park section is a hard-fought victory — not only for Staten Island residents, but for all New Yorkers who will now be able to enjoy this world-class greenspace,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Almost 85 percent of New Yorkers now live within walking distance of a park — a record number — and there is still much work to do. We are opening up new sections of Freshkills, advancing this administration’s goal of growing our green space, and promoting parks equity across all five boroughs.”
“The opening of Freshkills Park is a major milestone for NYC Parks, which works each and every day to broaden parks equity to all five boroughs,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This transformational project will serve as a model for land reuse projects around the world and a shining example of how restoring habitats can benefit wildlife in urban areas. We are thrilled to welcome the residents of Staten Island and beyond to take in the beautiful wildlife and scenery and enjoy all that North Park has to offer.”
“New York’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program is helping to improve waterfront communities across the state,” said New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez. “We are excited to see that this transformative program was able to play a role in converting a part of the world’s largest landfill into 21 acres of beautiful open space. North Park within the Freshkills Park is a restoration of urban ecology while providing increased access to the waterfront and spectacular views of the creeks, wetlands, and wildlife for residents and visitors of Staten Island to enjoy for generations to come.”
The 21-acre North Park section of Freshkills Park will offer breathtaking views of the area’s hills and waterways, access to the William T. Davis Wildlife Refuge, and unparalleled opportunities for birdwatching. The project included a series of pedestrian and cycling paths, an overlook deck, a bird viewing tower, a public parking lot, and a composting restroom that uses no water.
This project design represents a major step to advance NYC Parks’ goal of promoting environmental responsibility, as the parking lot lighting and restroom building run independently from the energy grid, relying on solar panels to provide the power to run the facilities, while the composting restroom is designed to turn waste back into compost to reintegrate into the Earth’s soil. Visitors can also stroll along seven acres of native seed plots operated by NYC Parks’ Greenbelt Native Plant Center. North Park was developed in collaboration with the New York City Department of Sanitation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The transformation of Freshkills Landfill into a beautiful park space was supported by over $2 million in funding from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Department of State’s (DOS) Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). Park amenities installed with this funding included a bird observation tower, wetland overlook deck, tree nursery for native species, pathway, and composting toilet. Freshkills North Park implements the city’s Waterfront Revitalization Program, a long-term land and water use plan to revitalize the city’s waterfront. The DOS LWRP serves as the primary program for working in partnership with waterfront communities across the state to address local and regional (coastal or inland) waterway issues, improve water quality and natural areas, guide development to areas with adequate infrastructure and services away from sensitive resources, promote public waterfront access, and provide for the redevelopment of underutilized waterfronts.
The Fresh Kills Landfill — once the largest landfill site in the world — closed in 2001. Construction on Freshkills Park began in 2008. The park is being built in phases and is scheduled to be completed in 2036.