Andropogon Associates, Ltd. Eco logical PIa/wing & Dcs(~ 11 37451",,, Lal/e Philadelphia PA 19128
KEY INFORMANT SURVEY FRESH KILLS LANDFILL City of New York Department of Sanitation Staten Island, New York
Prepared for SCS Engineers 2 Crosfield Avenue, Suite 422 West Nyack NY 100994
/ Prepared by Andropogon Associates, Ltd. \
9 May 1990
\ \ \
Architects, LlIIlIlscape Ar(hit<'C1S & Plallll ers
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KEY INFORMANT SURVEY FRESH KILLS LANDFILL City of New York Department of Sanitation Staten Island, New York
Prepared for SCS Engineers 2 Crosfield Avenue, Suite 422 West Nyack NY 100994 9 May 1990
Prepared by Andropogon Associates, Ltd, 374 Shurs Lane Philadelphia PA 19128 Project Director: Leslie Sauer; Project Manager: Clare Billett; Principal Planners: Rolf Sauer
Contents 1. KEY INFORMANT SURVEY 1.1 Purpose 1.2 Overview of Key Informant Survey 1.3 Background of the Key Informant Survey 2. FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS 2.1 Develop an expanded public outreach program. 2.2 Develop an Operation Landscaper Plan as well as an End-Use Plan. 2.3 Implement a Pilot Projects Program to monitor and assess the closure systems and cover vegetation. 2.4 A Conceptual Wetlands Management Plan should be developed with extensive review and input from the community and regulatory agencies. 2.5 Negotiations with DPR should be expanded and focus on actions which could be taken now as well as upon the phased closure of sections of the landfill. 2.6 Develop programs to better address local concerns about odor and litter.
1 1 2 7 S S
10 10 12
3. MAJOR ISSUES RAISED IN THE KEY INFORMANT SURVEY 3.1 Regulatory Concerns 3.2 DPR Concerns 3.3 Community Boards 3.4 Community Groups
13 15 19 24
KEY INFORMANT SURVEY
SCS Engineers (SCS) has been retained by the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DOS) to prepare engineering, design, and construction documents for the closure of portions of the Fresh Kills Landfill (DOS Capital Project No. S197-242). The project involves studies, analyses, engineering, design, management planning, contract document preparation, and construction oversight for the following work areas: drainage improvements, grading, final cap & cover, access roads, wetlands remediation, shoreline improvements, landscaping, end-use, and landfill gas. This report was initiated under Task 2, Information Search and Assimilation, and is intended to provide information to DOS and the planning team coordinated by SCS for the development of Task 3, The Conceptual Design Report. 1.2
Overview of Key Informant Survey
The landscape and end-use plans for the Fresh Kills Landfill must be responsive to state and federal legislation, community needs, and the constraints of DOS. The Key Informant Survey was undertaken as a component of the background research intended to:
(1) summarize these issues and identify those areas where there is general
agreement as well as areas of conflict; and (2) to develop a more comprehensive program for the design of the landscape and end-use plans. By interviewing key individuals from state and local agencies, community groups, and DOS, a broad array of concerns and varying perspectives have been raised which will, to the extent feasible, be integrated into the conceptual plans. Key Informant Survey
At the outset of this project, several major issues were identified during the Key Informant Survey as unresolved which would have a significant impact on the conceptual design for the landfill. Concurrently, those interviewed frequently raised issues which go beyond the planning team's scope of work, but which ultimately may impact the success of this project, and so are also included here.
Background of the Key Informant Survey
Community relations concerning the landfill are understandably strained. The landfill has been the subject of controversy since its inception and there is strong local resentment at being saddled with the whole region's trash. The landfill is a major presence, intermittently visible from half of Staten Island and growing more so daily. Odor is a persistent problem over a larger area and constitutes the community's most vocal complaint. There is also widespread concern about water quality.
There is a high degree of public mistrust and virtually all actions taken by DOS are automatically suspect. The most consistent request made by those interviewed was for DOS to provide more information on topics ranging from current DOS planning goals and waste management policies to Fresh Kills itself, including the closure schedule and other facilities proposed for the site. At the same time, the opportunity for a greater level of input in the planning process is sought as well as an ongoing structure for communication and participation between the community and DOS.
Regulatory relations are also strained. The city has never successfully completed permitting for the landfill and is operating under a 1985 Consent Order with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Negotiations are currently underway to develop a new Consent Order. It is a goal of DOS to bring the facility into compliance with all appropriate local, state, and federal requirements. On 26 April 1990 the city and state announced agreement of the conditions for the Consent Order which requires the city to submit an application for a state permit of operation by ]5 March 1995 and allows the city to operate Fresh Key Informant Survey
Kills without a permit until 1998, as long as it is in compliance with the terms of the agreement.
The Fresh Kills Landfill today is the major solid-waste facility of the City of New York and is expected to remain active for at least another decade. The actual closure schedule is unknown at this time, and will be impacted by fluctuations in trash volume, the sequence of filling, the extent of recycling and composting, and negotiations with federal, state, and local agencies.
When the landfill was sited in 1947, the land was known as Fresh Kills Park and was owned by the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). It is widely assumed that the site will ultimately be returned to DPR, although no formal agreement has been located. The program for previous end-use plans, including the one completed in 1984 (Preliminary Planting & End-Use Plan, Wehr an Engineering, April 1984) have included proposed park uses, such as active and passive recreation on and adjacent to the landfill mounds, which would be established upon landfill closure. Increasingly, however, DOS, OrR, and the community recognize that such proposals should be revised to reflect a more realistic closure scenario. The actual landfill closure will occur in sections which could entail a phased transfer to OrR. Other areas will be required for landfill-support facilities, such as gas and leachate monitoring and collection, and maintenance facilities for repair of the closure system, and are likely to be retained by DOS long after closure and at least for the 30-year regulatory review period required by DEC. Proposed plans should facilitate a phased approach and minimize potential conflicts between parkland uses and landfill operations.
There was a great gulf between those interviewed concerning their ultimate vision of the landfill. On the one hand, DOS and DEC seek to effect a landfill in regulatory compliance, well-capped, and blanketed with green grass. On the other hand, DPR and the community envision several thousand acres of open fields and woodlands connected to the Greenbelt and the Arthur Kill, resulting in a scenic and natural resource. There is also a great need for recreational facilities on Staten Island, which Key Informant Survey
has grown with recent development. DOS and DPR would like to maximize the opportunity for development of active recreational facilities, but acknowledge the severe site constraints. The Key Informant Survey provided for discussion of these and other issues in an informal context designed to gather information, review alternatives, and propose recommendations with those involved with the landfill. The Key Informant Summary Report is comprised of two parts: the first is a summary of the findings and recommendations, and the second describes in greater detail major issues raised in the Key Informant Survey. The Key Informant Survey spanned from August 1989 to May 1990. A summary of the interviews and meetings was sent to all attendees for review and revision and subsequently forwarded to all planning team members. We wish to acknowledge the following individuals who participated in this effort and thank them for their invaluable assistance. City of New York Department of Sanitation Dean Cavallaro, Project Manager Walter Czwartacky, Director of Planning Philip Gleason, Director of Landfill Engineering Paul Gregory, Deputy Director of Planning Sam Steffan, Project Manager, Leachate Control Project Robin Geller, Project Manager, Contracts Management Kevin Keene, Environmental Scientist John McGlaughlin, Associate Quality Assurance Specialist James Meyer, Deputy Director of Public Policy Mierle Ukeles, Artist in Residence Bill Young, Superintendent of Construction Anthony Zarillo, Deputy Commissioner City of New York Department of Environmental Protection Al Appleton, Commissioner City of New York, Office of the Mayor Kathy Dodd, Staten Island Coordinator, Community Assistance Unit State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation Gilbert Burns, Regional Environmental Quality Engineer Raymond Kordish, Associate Environmental Analyst Key Informant Survey
Glenn Mils trey, Sanitary Engineer Joseph Pane, Principal Fish & Wildlife Biologist Laurel Remus, Senior Forester Daniel Walsh, Geo-Hydrologist City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation Elliot Borack, Parks Manager, Borough of Staten Island Diana Chapin, Deputy Commissioner Helen Forgione, Natural Resources Group Marcha Johnson, Project Manager, Staten Island Greenbelt Masterplan Richard Lynch, Director, Staten Island Native Plants Center Marc Matsil, Director, Natural Resources Group Thomas Paolo, Administrator, S.l. Greenbelt Steve Whitehouse, Director of Planning Greenbelt Master Planning Consultants Michael N aim, South Street Design Joanne Jackson, Jackson & Kihn Staten Island Solid Waste Advisory Board Helen Bialer Barbara Chinitz John Deane William Franz Mary Horohoe Pat Serra John Szeligowski Sylvia Zaage Greenbelt Stewardship Council Richard Buegler, President, Protectors Pine Oak Woods; Board Member, Parks Council Jack Deitch, President, Todt Hill Civic Association; Member, Citizen'S Committee for the Greenbelt Joan Martin, Board Member, Protection of Pine Oak Woods; Founder, the Friends of Clove Lake Park; Secretary, Last Frontiers Project Roy Martin, President, High Rock Civic Association; Chairman, Environmental Protection Committee of Community Board #2; Board member, Greenbelt Conservancy Ellen Pratt, Corresponding Secretary and Conservation Chairman, 'Protectors of Pine Oak Woods'; Member, Council of the Environment for New York City and the State Environmental Protection Lobby Deborah Wasser Sachs, Board Member, Preservation League of Staten Island Sally Williams, President, Planning Committee of the Parks Council; Board Member, Greenbelt Conservancy Trust for Public Lands Carolyn Murray, Project Manager, Harbor Herons Project (now at NYC DEP) Key Informant Survey
Staten Island Borough, Community Boards Monica Benedet, Environmental Chairperson, Community Board #3 James Chin, Chairperson, Community Board #2 Phyllis Cirillo, Vice Chairperson, Community Board #3 Dorothy Fitzpatrick, District manager, Community Board #3 Roy Martin, Environmental Protection Chairperson Lilian Prado, District Manager, Community Board #2 Maxine Spirer, Chairperson, Community Board #3 Joseph Vaszilly, Public Service Chairperson, Community Board #1 Robert Zink, Public Service Chairperson, Community Board #2
Key Informant Survey
FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
The major issues raised by the Key Informant Survey have been reviewed by DOS and the planning team during the Inventory and Conceptual Design Phases for the closure plan which were initiated concurrently. Every effort has been made to incorporate these concerns insofar as possible in the planning process. This section of the report seeks to describe those concerns where there appears to be consensus as well as those issues which are unresolved and require further assessment or information. The recommendations which follow represent an effort to consolidate the most frequently reiterated perceptions and to describe an effective project response to the information gathered. In many cases, the purpose of a recommendation is to support or urge expansion of directions or actions which are already underway.
Develop an expanded public outreach program.
DOS should greatly expand its current program for public education. At every turn, those interviewed sought greater communication with DOS, more input in area-wide solid-waste management planning policy and practices as well as the Fresh Kills Landfill site. The primary focus should be informative and educational, rather than promotional, and seek to develop a program to manage effective citizen participation. Such a program might include information packets, newspaper supplements, videos, and television programming, as well as a staffed walk-in public information office near the landfill which could provide information and log public comments. Public attitudes can represent a major obstacle to timely project implementation and, in part, responsible for the fact that there are almost no alternative sites to Fresh Kills. The issues surrounding Fresh Kills are unusually complex and interconnected, requiring a greater level of public awareness before appropriate public review can be Key Informant Survey
undertaken. Many of those interviewed stated a strong desire to be involved earlier in the planning process, and noted that DOS often does not come to the public until a project is about to be implemented, rather than when priorities are determined. It was generally agreed that more continuity in the program for public participation and education is needed and that policy issues and comprehensive planning should be included as well as project-by-project reviews. 2.2
Develop an Operational Landscape Plan as well as an End-Use Landscape Plan.
Many of the most significant landscape issues raised focused on the site's use as an operating landfill rather than its future end use as parkland. The intrusion of the landfill on the scenic values of the community, for example, should be reconciled now rather than in the distant future when the proposed park end-use plan might be implemented. The primary focus of the Operational Landscape Plan should be to meet the site's immediate needs. At the same time, the operational landscape should complement the End-Use Plan and serve as the basis for its future establishment. The major criteria for the Operational Landscape Plan should include compliance with state regulations, increased habitat and scenic values, and greater cost effectiveness in the short and long terms, i.e., in both capital and expense budgets. A phased landscape installation program should be initiated once a plan is developed and may include additional planting on both the landfill mounds as well as the site's perimeter. For selected areas, such as adjacent to Route 440, planting outside the site's boundaries may more effectively enhance the view. 2.3
Implement a Pilot Projects Program to monitor and assess the closure systems and cover vegetation.
The capping and closure system, including cover vegetation, for Fresh Kills must meet a variety of criteria, induding conformance to state and federal regulations in Key Informant Survey
the most cost-effective manner, and addressing scenic and habitat concerns as well. At present, these goals are in conflict. DEC favors herbaceous plant species only, in an effort to ensure the integrity of the cap. This restriction, however, when effected over 100 or 1,000 acres of closed landfill, presents a bleak view to the community and is of very limited value as habitat. In order to assess both existing and proposed cap and cover systems scenarios and to foster the development of innovative alternative landscape solutions which address both design and engineering goals, a program of Pilot Projects is proposed. Virtually all those interviewed favored as natural a landscape character as feasible, with woodlands interspersed with tall-grass and wildflower meadows. These landscape types would also provide greater long-term successional stability than grasses and legumes, the conventional final cover type, and will likely require significantly less maintenance over time. However, this approach cannot be implemented until more cost-effective establishment techniques are developed and questions concerning protection of the cap's integrity are adequately addressed. Therefore, the initial pilot projects to be implemented in 1990 focus on meeting the DEC criteria to provide stable cover. In addition, a variety of cover types on slopes of varying length and steepness will be assessed for stability. Later efforts will address developing alternatives which have greater value for scenic and habitat improvement while meeting DEC eqUivalency requirements.
Long-term maintenance requirements should also be assessed. Despite the DEC directive to prohibit tree growth over any capped area, any landfill with a soil surface suitable for stable grass growth can also support tree growth. Control of tree growth is, therefore, maintenance dependent; however, there are clearly no guarantees about levels of future maintenance at Fresh Kills, especially once it is no longer active. There are numerous municipal landfills where tree growth exceeds regulatory guidelines. Every effort should be made to reconcile this problem in the pilot projects by designing closure systems which can accommodate woody growth Key Informant Survey
without compromising the impermeability of the cap. (See "Draft Overview of the Demonstration Program Proposed for the Fresh Kills Landfill Closure System," GeoServices, Inc., 13 February 1990.) 2.4
A Conceptual Wetlands Management Plan should be developed with extensive review and input from the community and regulatory agencies.
Wetland protection, restoration, and management was given very high priority throughout the interview phase, especially the protection of all existing wetlands. The issue is surrounded with controversy and skepticism and is considered to be an area where DOS must make Significant improvements. A benefit of a broadly participatory process is that a more well rounded presentation of the factors involved can be developed for review with the regulatory agencies. The major priorities raised include: 1. Protection of existing wetlands;
2. Restoration and continued protection of the tidal marshes impacted by litter and clean-up procedures; 3. Management of Isle of Meadows by the New York Audubon Society as a wildlife sanctuary and its eventual transfer to DPR; 4. Restoration and protection of the Richmond and Main Creek corridors as critical habitat and Greenbelt connections; and 5. Effective utilization of storm water to create sites for native freshwater wetland plant community types. A "Recommended Wetlands Remediation & Protection Activities Report" has been prepared for this phase of the project by EcolSciences, Inc. 2.5
Expanded negotiations with DPR and focus on actions which could be taken now as well as upon the phased closure of sections of the landfill.
The earlier assumption that the Fresh Kills site would ultimately be transferred to DPR broadened considerably during interview phase to identify more immediate Key Informant Survey
opportunities. At this time, there are no specific agreements in place; however, the following considerations were offered for review. 1. Because of the long-term operational requirements of the landfill, a
phased transfer of all or part of the landfill is more realistic. 2. Areas of the site which are proposed for eventual park use which are not associated with current or proposed landfill operations should be reviewed by DPR to assess the short-term opportunities for the development of recreational facilities. 3. The end-use plan should effect the maximum level of separation feasible between landfill infrastructure facilities and areas proposed for a park to minimize potential conflict between these land uses. It is probable that landfill-related activities will persist on portions of the site for decades to come, such as gas and leachate monitoring and management facilities. 4. Generic criteria for proposed landfill transfer should be developed in addition to reviewing the options for Fresh Kills. Because of the likelihood that DPR will eventually be designated as the eventual land manager for many closed landfill sites, it is appropriate that they be involved in the site as early as possible. Liability and safety responsibilities must be clarified as well as monitoring, maintenance, and repair of landfill-related facilities. All transfers must be acceptable to the community and DPR as well as to DOS. All sites proposed for transfer should have stable covers with largely native plant communities as well as complete infrastructure with no nuisance problems. 5. An interagency task force should be established to advise DPR & DOS on possible transfer options for landfill property to park uses. 6. The involvement between DOS and the Greenbelt should be endorsed, expanded, and funded. Currently, cooperative efforts are directed toward assessing native species for establishment of low-maintenance plant communities both on the landfill and in disturbed areas of the Greenbelt.
Key Informant Survey
Develop programs to better address local concerns about odor and litter.
There are several areas of concern which go well beyond present planning team's scope of work, but which are highlighted here for further study, including odor and litter. Landfill odor, which is expected to worsen as the landfill increases in size, was the most frequently cited complaint. The community, furthermore, is not aware of any serious actions being taken by DOS to address the problem, except that recent experiments with landfill deodorant products were not successful. The possible impacts of the proposed active gas-collection system which will likely effect a significant reduction in odor levels are poorly understood by the community and no quantitative data is available. As a consequence, the general perception is that DOS is insensitive to this highpriority community concern. Without more effective odor control, community opposition will remain strong regardless of other improvements that may be implemented. The development of a comprehensive program to evaluate and control landfill-generated odors should be given a very high priority and include public participation. An analogous concern is litter, which also will be effected by actions taken under the current project scope. A comprehensive program to assess and manage litter should be developed with public input. Litter levels also should be substantially reduced by revisions in operations currently under consideration. Shoreline litter has been a problem as well. DEC and DOS are currently negotiating revisions to current practices to remove f10atables and litter from shoreline areas. Once litter is more effectively managed without scraping the vegetation, these tidal marshes should be restored.
Key Informant Survey
MAJOR ISSUES RAISED IN THE KEY INFORMANT SURVEY
Solid Waste Management Facilities
The major regulatory focus of the closure plan is to bring the site into conformance with New York State DEC 6 NYCRR Park 360 Regulations for Solid Waste Management Facilities, 31 December 1988. The planning team's communication with the state regulatory agencies has been compromised by the recent history between DOS and DEC leading up to the current Consent Order. Despite the present adversarial relationship, however, representatives from DEC underscored the need for a more continuous dialogue between DOS and DEC as well as adequate review of work in progress and appropriate site inspections. It is important to establish a specific schedule and procedure with DEC for review of the current work effort once communication between the two agencies is reinstated. DEC proposed that initial efforts focus on developing the most cost-effective closure systems which will bring the site into compliance with state regulations without requiring exemptions or equivalencies. This is especially important as DEC noted that no closure system currently in use at Fresh Kills meets the DEC Part 360 requirements. Existing conditions on closed slopes, the closure-system proposed above, and alternative closure systems which would require exemptions or equivalencies could be evaluated in a series of closure system test plots. DEC asserted that several sites which are perceived 'closed' are not in conformance with the current 360 regulations, in particular in landfill Section 3/4. In some cases, an exception may be granted; in other cases, additional stabilization may be required. DEC noted that, although the most recent grading plans (Wehran, 1984) which DEC has reviewed achieve a net slope of 3:1 (horizontal:vertical), there are 2.5:1 fill slopes proposed which exceed current regulations. Acceptance of such conditions, if they actually exist on site, would require an exemption from DEC and justification by Key Informant Survey
DOS to ensure equivalent site stability. DEC also expressed general concern about overall slope length and slope stability. Recent topographic mapping, however, shows that the actual slope achieved by recent landfilling operations rarely exceed 3:1.
The DEC Part 360 Regulations, which primarily address environmental protection and public health and safety, require that the Landscape Plan provide effective site stabilization without compromising the integrity of the impermeable cap which is intended to reduce leachate production. The regulations are not specific but, in practice, the NYS DEC has adopted management practices which conform to federal hazardous waste landfill standards and are more restrictive regarding vegetation, exceeding the requirements typically recognized for municipal landfills. The state presently recommends limiting the vegetative growth to grass or herbaceous cover, precluding trees for the thirty-year regulatory review period. Current practices for closure typically entail hydroseeding a mixture of non-native cool-season grasses, such as a perennial rye, fescue, and a legume over the two feet of cover soil over the impermeable cap. Continuous management, such as mowing and annual liming and fertilization, is required until all regulatory review requirements are met. However, this is very costly and compliance is inconsistent because of its size and notoriety. However, Fresh Kills is likely to be subject to continued scrutiny. Regardless of the depth of cover soil, however, or what kind of vegetation is initially established, empirical evidence suggests that most landfills gradually succeed to woody vegetation over time because of limited maintenance. The cover soon develops into a mixture of invasive exotics, such as Japanese knotweed
cuspidafum), white mulberry (Morus alba), and tree-of-heaven
(Ailanthus altissima) locally, which colonize well under disturbed conditions, as well as ubiquitous native species, such as common reed (Phragmites communis) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). The habitats that such species produce are typically degraded compared to native communities and of less value ecologically. Key Informant Survey
The planting over a capped area has been historically discouraged
by DEC, or
accepted only where restricted to planters and other measures, such as deeper soil cover, to ensure cap integrity. DEC suggested that the capping system pilot program include an evaluation of root-penetration studies for the proposed closure systems and vegetative cover types. 3.1.3
The most significant regulatory concern for the end-use planning is the protection of wetland habitats according to the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (COE), 33 CFR Section 328.2, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 40 CFR Section 230.3, and the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), Sec. 51-0703 . A detailed description of the wetlands on the Fresh Kills Landfill site is contained in "Tidal and Freshwater Wetlands Delineation Report for Fresh Kills Sanitary Landfill, Staten Island, New York," 31 January 1990, and "Wetland Characterization and Habitat Evaluation Report Fresh Kills Sanitary Landfill, Staten Island New York," 15 February 1990, both by EcolSciences, Inc. Once entirely tidal wetlands and largely filled before such activities were regulated, the Fresh Kills site still supports significant areas of remnant salt marshes fringing the Fresh Kills' channels. Some of these have been salt marshes scraped of vegetation and, in places, also scraped of soil in the course of shoreline cleaning. The DOS has been engaged in a continuing effort to reconcile this issue by modifying cleaning procedures and developing plans for the restoration of these wetlands. 3.2
There is almost no documentation available on any agreements between The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and DOS concerning the use of Key Informant Survey
the site. The only materials found are the 12 March 1953 Board of Estimate's approval and map 2718 (R-RW-17-1), which appears as a reference on a tax map delineating the OPR land on the Fresh Kills site. No agreements concerning the return of any or all of the site to OPR were found, although a park-related end-use has been assumed in previous and the current program for end-use planning. OPR has acknowledged that most, if not all, of New York City's landfills could eventually be managed as parkland. However, past landfill transfers to park agencies are characterized as unsatisfactory because of underfunding and inadequate stabilization, as for example, at Ferry Point. OPR wants a more natural and self-sustaining landscape established and the negotiation of suitable transfer scenarios. The first question is whether the site, or portions of it, are going to be returned to OPR. The most feasible approach is probably a phased transfer where each phase must be acceptable to the community and OPR. There were also inquiries about what non-OPR options exist and what options there are for layers of custody between OPR and
The option for
transfer of ownership of Isle of Meadows was raised as well as a suggestion that for management agreements with the New York Audubon Society and the Manomet Bird Observatory could be effected virtually immediately.
There is concern that proposed potential park uses are often inflated and unrealistic, such as Pelham Bay, which was recently transferred to the National Park Service, which was once promised to be developed as a major ski facility. It was noted that recreational facilities are frequently promised in landfill plans but have rarely been implemented or sustained on former landfills. OPR questioned whether the active landfill areas at Fresh Kills were appropriate for any active recreation, because of problems associated with settlement, which might expose visitors to hazardous conditions and entail unacceptably high levels of maintenance. They asked if a stability study would be available. There is at present no budget allocated by DPR for the development of the Fresh Kills site as a park. OPR inquired what budget DOS has allocated for the development of the Conceptual End-Use Master Plan.
Key Informant Survey
Clarifying liability issues and areas of responsibility between DPR and DOS will be crucial. DPR was especially concerned about maintenance of the gas and leachate management systems, including the slurry wall, gas monitoring and collection, and groundwater monitoring wells. Questions were also raised about slope steepness, aspect, and slope length, which are factors effecting long-term maintenance and stability, and DOS' responsibility in the event of an eventual landfill failure. DPR inquired about what landfill facilities would eventually be sited at Fresh Kills and what efforts were being made to minimize the conflicts between industrial uses and park and environmental concerns. At this time, however, the Fresh Kills closure schedule is uncertain; nor is it certain that any or all of Fresh Kills will ultimately be transferred to parks. 3.2.2
With regard to the End-Use Plan, it was generally agreed that the site should be restored to as natural a habitat as is feasible and that every effort should be made to integrate the site with, and extend, the natural systems of the Staten Island Greenbelt. Native plant communities, including forests and shrublands as well as grasslands, should be established on the site and given as little maintenance as is consistent with maintaining site stability and habitat diversity. Tom Paolo summarized the Greenbelt end-use goals with regard to Fresh Kills as including the restoration of the Richmond Creek corridor as a natural area with water-related recreation, such as boating, native habitats established as cover, and some active recreation on the landfill's perimeter. Trails for hiking, bird-watching, and other natural area recreation is considered appropriate as long as safety can be assured for the visitors.
DPR acknowledged the need to ensure the integrity of the landfill cap and urged field trials to verify any proposed site management and reiterated the potential uses of a facility, such as that proposed for the Mollenhoff Nursery for vegetative stabilization at Fresh Kills. The Richmond and Brookfield landfill sites were identified as critical links to the Greenbelt. DPR also noted that the vegetation on Key Informant Survey
the Brookfield Landfill was failing and asked what investigations and restorations would be undertaken. 3.2.3
the need for additional active recreation facilities locally,
especially baseball and soccer fields. DPR urged as much development of athletic facilities as possible, including tennis courts, swimming pools, and bocci courts, both indoor and outdoor. The peripheral areas of the site, where no recent landfilling has taken place, offer the greatest opportunities for locating these facilities as well as comfort stations. The interior of the site may offer the potential for developing the creeks as a recreational resource as well as a Greenbelt corridor extending from the Arthur Kill to Richmondtown. It was noted, however, that DPR does not own, operate, or maintain their own marinas and that such a facility at the Fresh Kills site would have to be operated as a concession under current guidelines. DPR pointed out that the development of recreational facilities at Fresh Kills is typically assumed to be an end-use issue and scheduled in the distant future; however, DPR proposed reviewing what land areas might be available for development, with a proposal and program for more immediate park facilities implementation. 3.2.4
DPR proposed establishing new freshwater wetlands on the site by utilizing and incorporating wetland design with the site's stormwater management systems. Vegetative stabilization is preferred and rip-rap and gabions are generally considered incompatible with a park-related end-use environment. DPR also suggested that swales and downchutes be 'down-teched' to permit the establishment of native plant communities. DPR has been involved with developing a proposal to integrate Key Informant Survey
stormwater management and wetland restoration goals on Staten Island, a concept known as the Bluebelt. The landfill is considered ideal for the Bluebelt approach. Recent guidelines developed by DEC for new development address many of the concerns raised, including wetlands creation and attenuation of the 2-year storm to protect stream channels from erosion, the IO-year storm to assure adequacy of existing infrastructure, and the IOO-year storm to prevent floodplain expansion. 3.3
The interview process for the Community Boards consisted of an initial planning meeting to establish a Fresh Kills Task Force for Community Board involvement and schedule two work sessions with the design team. The Task Force individuals were responsible for reporting back to their boards on the project's progress. The first work session of the Task Force also included Thomas Paolo, the Greenbelt Administrator, and representatives from the Greenbelt Master Plan Design Team: Joanna Jackson of Jackson & Kihn and Michael Nairn of South Street Design. While this initial phase to develop the program for the closure, landscape design, and end-use plans did not include a presentation to the Community Boards, it was recommended by the Boards that the Conceptual Plan eventually be presented to the full membership.
Four major issues were raised by the Community Boards: 1. Appropriate end uses
2. Scenic impacts of the landfill 3. Environmental concerns, such as odor and leachate 4. The need for greater public involvement in the planning process
Key Informant Survey
The community's greatest concern was that the Fresh Kills site would actually provide fewer recreational facilities than had been proposed by the Wehran Plan completed in 1984, because of problems associated with recreational facilities on recently landfilled areas. Three hardball fields and one football field had been proposed for Section 3/4; however, it is not expected to accommodate active recreation facilities for some time, if ever, because of the problems of settlement, which could make the fields too costly to construct or maintain. The working committee was also very concerned about safety issues and asked if there were regulations concerning active recreation on landfills, such as specified minimum depths of soil cover. While it was acknowledged that any ballfield would likely be fully utilized, the working committee was very reluctant to see active recreation on the landfill mounds. At the same time, however, they are anxious to maximize the development of recreational facilities elsewhere on the site. The committee also inquired if there might be any options for land swapping to acquire land better suited for active recreational use. Regarding a recreation program, it was agreed that there is a desperate need for all types of ballfields on Staten Island, especially baseball, softball, and soccer. Other needed facilities include children's playgrounds, swimming pools, riding facilities, and senior citizes activities, such as bocci, shuffleboard, and outdoor chess/checkers. Water-based recreation, such as boating and fishing, are also very desirable and a marina is a high priority facility, but area representatives were very concerned about water quality and its impact on water-based recreation potential. Here again the community wants assurances about safety and that the activity proposed can be safely undertaken. The most immediate recreation concern is that this area of Staten Island is being denied other recreation facilities, because the facilities proposed in the Wehr an Plan are, for planning purposes, being treated as if they already exist. They requested that a more realistic program and schedule be recognized by OPR and Key Informant Survey
in lieu of 20
what were described as "false promises." Another negative impact on the community of an unrealistic plan is that proposals for development in the area are not being required to provide adequate recreation on the assumption that the facilities will shortly be available at Fresh Kills, exacerbating the demand on existing facilities. In general, it was agreed that the most appropriate end-use on the landfill mounds was as a natural area, with biking, hiking, and horseback riding as the major activities. 3.3.2
Scenic Impacts of the Landfill
The continuous presence and sight of the landfill in northwest Staten Island is considered a daily burden by the adjacent population. The group repeatedly urged the planning team to "look at the landfill as if they lived there ... just go down Arden Avenue." They stated unequivocably that the scenic impacts of the landfill should be addressed now and during the operational life of the landfill, rather than at some unspecified time in the future when the site or portions of it might become parkland. The community sees the visual intrusion of the landfill as a growing threat which should be addressed now, not an issue to be reconciled by the End-Use Plan.
The Task Force also expressed gratitude for recent DOS efforts to improve the landfill's appearance, including the berm along Richmond Avenue and other perimeter plantings, such as along Arthur Kill Road. At the same time, however, they realize that as the mounds reach higher elevations perimeter treatments will not be effective and stressed the need to establish a durable and diverse landscape on the landfill mounds, rather than a quick fix. A closed slope with new green grass, while a great improvement over interim cover, is still not a satisfactory view. The Community Boards' representives also were unanimous in their desire to see healthy natural landscapes established on the mounds. They inquired about wildflowers and reiterated their conviction that only lots of trees will take away the Key Informant Survey
overwhelming presence of landfill -- "You can't have a view without trees." In addition to the intrusive up-close views of the landfill, residents were also very sensitive to the loss of cherished long views, such as of the World Trade Center from the West Shore Expressway and views of the Bayonne and Goethals Bridge from many residential areas. They acknowledge that eventually there may be spectacular views from the landfill, but right now this matters very little to them. 3.3.3
Concerns about odor and leachate top the community's immediate environmental agenda. Dean Cavallaro informed the group that this project does not include leachate control but that an RFP for leachate monitoring and control has recently been released. There are proviSions in that contract for a significant level of community input and review, as well as public education. Residents are worried that the current work at the Mayflower Pumping Station was undertaken in order to handle proposed leachate from Fresh Kills, and that leachate will back up into their sewers with stormwater surges. They vigorously oppose pumping raw leachate into the system. Another environmental concern expressed was local storm water management, especially road flooding. It was stated that resolution of problem areas, such as Arthur Kill Road, will require cooperative agreements between DOS and DOT and should be incorporated into the overall site Storm water Management Plan. Traffic problems were also raised. Other areas of concern lie immediately adjacent to the landfill, such as possible impacts to the wetland behind Section 2/8 from development proposed on the St. Michael's property. The odor problem was the community's most vocal complaint and has not been addressed except with promises, from the Community Board's perspective. The group noted changes in the distribution of the odor, especially its expansion into areas such as Todt Hill where odor had not been a problem in the past. It was suggested that this may be a result of the growing height of the landfill itself and Key Informant Survey
that the odor problem will worsen as the mass of the landfill increases, The planning team noted that the gas monitoring and collection system which are included in this project's scope will probably mitigate the problem, but had no quantitative information available, The committee also inquired about the status of the Getty facility, Residents requested further monitoring and analysis of the odor problem as well as a comprehensive program to reduce odor levels, It was also acknowledged that the landfill is not the only source of odor problems locally. The group noted that dense tree growth might also help reduce odors. Lastly, the committee asked about the possible long-term impacts on local microclimate from what they called "the Grand Canyon of Staten Island". 3.3.4
There were many questions asked about the landfill which go beyond the current project scope. At this point in time, residents feel there is an information vacuum and no clear planning direction, There is also a lack of trust concerning what they are told about the landfill. The community was skeptical of proposed closure schedules, in particular the reduced elevations and early closures for landfill Sections 3/4 and 2/8. They noted, too, that the earlier plan for extensive installation of regional resource recovery facilities and scheduled closure of Fresh Kills is largely unimplemented today. There appear to be policy conflicts, with Mayor Dinkins pushing for increased recycling over incineration and Borough President Molinari supporting immediate construction of resource recovery, The future of the Fresh Kills Landfill is presumed to be a political football and the community feels its concerns will go largely unaddressed. There does not appear, at this time, to be an effective vehicle for public education regarding the DOS's current efforts and future directions. The Task Force reiterated its desire to work cooperatively with DOS, but requested adequate information on the larger planning effort as well as the current project-by-project approach. The community is not necessarily opposed to all projects connected with Fresh Kills, but does seek more involvement in the Key Informant Survey
planning process and a commitment to adequate safety and environmental protection. Similarly, the group anticipates future pressure for a variety of other uses seeking space at Fresh Kills, including additional composting as well as sludge, asbestos, and dredge spoil disposal. Safety is, again, the primary concern. People requested information on the composition of the dredge spoil and sludge product disposal sites considered for the site, and the existing and future asbestos sites and assurances that appropriate environmental measures will be taken. Questions were also asked concerning the hazards of landfill fire and possible problems associated with the geomembrane burning and producing toxic fumes. The group inquired what facilities might be required for gas control and how recycling might impact the closure time frame. The representatives also asked what might be the impact of upcoming city budget cuts. 3.4
Environmental and End-Use Concerns
Long-term goals for the End-Use Plan are centered largely on hiking, enjoying nature in a recovering landscape, and hopefully an interpretive center which addresses the dilemma of trash versus nature and the restoration of the site. Once environmental hazards, such as leachate and landfill gas, are appropriately addressed, the landfill can be developed as a unique regional resource. It was urged that management of Isle of Meadows, which is currently owned by DOS, be contracted with the Manomet Bird Observatory, which also manages Pralls Island. In addition, it was recommended that DOS consider transferring the Isle of Meadows property to DPR. Coordinated management of the three islands in the Harbor Heron's Project is seen as especially critical now that the area has been stressed by the spill of 500,000 gallons of #2 fuel oil opposite Pralls Island on 2 January 1990. An extensive bio-monitoring Key Informant Survey
program will be implemented in cooperation with DEC, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP), and New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP). Any data developed for Fresh Kills which could be made available will be useful to this and the Harbor Herons projects. It was noted here that the importance of the William T. David Wildlife Refuge is
heightened at this time as the area may have been somewhat less impacted. The large DOS trash booms in Fresh Kills Creek appear to have partially contained the oil brought in for many days on each tide, reducing the amount of oil penetrating the upper reaches of the Fresh Kills and Richmond Creek systems. Wetland concerns were given the highest priority by the environmentalists interviewed. Additional information on the remaining wetlands was requested, including historic wetlands extent and current delineations. The groups are also very concerned about leachate impact on the wetlands and requested additional information on DOS's current RFP for Leachate Management. The protection and restoration of tidal wetland fringe and the creation of habitat corridors along Richmond and Main creeks are given very high priority. Additional concern was expressed about the large volumes of sediment trash and uncontrolled runoff which seem to be entering the wetlands from the slopes of the landfill, such as the north face of Section 3/4. A review of appropriate erosion and sediment control procedures with operations was requested as well as comprehensive stormwater management. Upland habitat concerns focused largely on improving air quality through reforestation. The Greenbelt Stewardship Council, for example, requested that the trash mounds be reforested to the maximum extent feasible while retaining an appropriate amount of grassland habitat as well. Their long-term goals for the End-Use Plan are centered largely on hiking, enjoying nature in a recovering landscape and, hopefully, an interpretive center which addresses the dilemma of trash versus nature.
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A Participatory Planning Process
The community groups strongly advocate a participatory planning process and welcomed the current approach taken by DOS. It is clear that Staten Islanders want to participate in developing a more satisfactory situation at Fresh Kills. They also recognize the "Catch-22's" of waste management and acknowledge that the reductions in the volume of trash due to increased recycling might extend the potential life span of Fresh Kills unless DEC dictates closure dates. Similarly, they advocate composting and recognize that a site on Fresh Kills is likely. It
acknowledged that failure to develop realistic solutions to the trash problem will probably force a reliance on resource recovery incinerators and disposal facilities which some of the community groups have opposed and others support. They inquired directly about the status of the designated incinerator facility on Staten island and what sites, if any, are under consideration. They wish to help develop a comprehensive Solid Management Plan for New York, instead of simply reacting to DOS's proposals and actions. Concern was expressed over the current situation between DOS and DEC and it was hoped that a more constructive relationship could be established. They also recognize that there are a wide array of different opinions and that crafting a workable consensus will require effective communication and open negotiation. They noted the sense of mistrust the community still has for DOS, reflected in the fact that when the berms were constructed, their first reaction was to assume that DOS was trying to hide something from them. Only later did they appreciate the screening of the landfill. The community groups requested a schedule for their review of the Preliminary Conceptual Plan and Report.
Many of the communities area concerns were enunciated in a document called "Environment '89, A Platform for Staten Island" which was endorsed by the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Staten Island Citizens for Clean Air, the Sierra Club, Key Informant Survey
the Natural Resources Protective Association, the Staten Island Planning Committee, and the Lighthouse Hill Civic Association. Their major recommendations related to Fresh Kills include: 1. Air Quality -- "Tree plantings ... to improve air quality. Landfill odors --
address citizens complaints and concerns about the omnipresent, obscene, and unhealthful garbage odor over large portions of Staten Island that emanates from the Fresh Kills Landfill." 2. Clean Water -- " Wetlands -- more adequately protect and preserve Staten Island's fresh water and tidal wetlands . . . . Find an environmentally sound method for dredge soil disposal." 3. Sewage and Solid Wastes -- "Incinerator Ash -- oppose dumping of any New York City incinerator ash at the Fresh Kills Landfill including any plan to mine the old garbage in the landfill in order to build the proposed specially lined ash dump site. Fresh Kills Landfill -- demand that the Fresh Kills Landfill come into compliance with state and federal laws. Accept no less!" A similar document was also prepared for New York City and sponsored by a wide array of local environmental groups entitled "Environment '89 - A Program for the Future of New York City", which included the following recommendations: 1. "The City must protect and expand its parks, gardens, and open spaces.
acquire for the Parks Department privately owned natural sites in city and any city-owned natural sites not in Parks Department.
create a continuously accessible, public waterfront.
build esplanades and greenways that link major park systems.
2. New Yorkers must have clean, healthful air to breathe ... •
plant trees and maintain existing ones to reduce carbon dioxide levels as part of global relief efforts to lessen greenhouse effect.
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3. The City must be responsible for its garbage, sewage, and toxic wastes. â€˘
recycle everything physically possible (60% - 85%) by 2005 ... and then dispose of whatever residue remains in the most environmentally benign way.
4. The City must ensure abundant clean, healthful water. â€˘
Enforce laws, like Federal Clean Water and Coastal Zone Management acts to preserve and protect river, wetland, waterfront, and coastal waters for public open space and water dependent uses.
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Beil, E. 1983. A Brief History of Staten Island City Parks [from] PROCEEDINGS of the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences, First International Conference on Olmsted Parks, September 1983. Cavallaro, A.D. 1989. Draft thesis for the Pratt Institute: Visual Analysis of the Final Grading Plan for the Fresh Kills Landfill. New York, NY. EcolSciences, Inc. 2 March 1990. Recommended Wetlands Remediation and Protection Activities Report. Environment '89 - A Platform for Staten Island. Environment '89 - A Program for the Future of New York City. LeVeque, T.Ryan. 1988. Nacy Holt's 'Sky Mound': Adaptive Technology Creates Celestial Perspectives, Landscape Architecture. Lynch, RT. 1988. Potential End-Use Plan for FreshKills Landfill, New York City Department of Parks, manuscript. New York City Staten Island Community Board #1. 1989. Fiscal Year 1990 Capital Budget Priorities & Requests. New York City Staten Island Community Board #3. 1989. Fiscal Year 1990 Capital Budget Priorities & Requests. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 1990. Memorandum: Stormwater management Guidelines for New Development (Originator: Philip M. DeGaetano). Division of Water Technical & Operations Guidance Series (5.1.8). New York State, Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. People, Resources Recreation - New York Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. 1988-93. O'Leary, P.R, P.W. Walsh, and RK. Ham. 1988. Managing Solid Waste [In] Scientific American, December 1988, Vol. 259, No.6, pp. 36-42. Trust for Public Lands. 1990. The Harbor Heron's Project. Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd. 1968. The Least Social Cost Corridor for Richmond Parkway. A study commissioned by the New York City Department of Parks. Philadelphia, PA, May, 1968. Wehran Engineering. April 1984. Preliminary Planting and End-Use Plan, Sheets 27 & 28 of DOS, Solid Waste Disposal, Fresh Kills Landfill Operations Plan.
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Wehran Engineering. April 1984. Final Grading Plan, Sheets 3-6,14,16 & 19 of DOS, Solid Waste Disposal, Fresh Kills Landfill Operations Plan.
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Published on Mar 3, 2014