Freshkills Park 2017 Annual Report

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and the Freshkills Park Alliance

2017 Annual Report


2017 Annual Report

A Letter from Eloise Hirsh, Freshkills Park Alliance President We ended 2017 with a wonderful celebration: the construction start for phase one of North Park. The event marked significant progress in making the former Fresh Kills Landfill public parkland. As we broke ground on that beautiful sunny day, I could feel the excitement and support for this milestone endeavor. Everyone who has hiked the trails, kayaked the creeks, run and biked the paths, and studied the site’s environmental transformation over the years has played a role in the progress we’ve made so far. The Freshkills Park build-out has new momentum, with North Park construction, South Park entering design, and Owl Hollow Soccer Fields, Schmul Park, and New Springville Greenway serving as neighborhood amenities. As the Park develops, we are dedicated to supporting all the ways that bring people to experience the site right now through programming and cross-disciplinary projects. This year’s Discovery Day events, youth education programs, tours, hikes, art projects, scientific research, and volunteer activities all brought thousands of people with various 2017 Annual Report


backgrounds and interests to Freshkills Park. This growing community is as diverse as the site it celebrates. Looking to the future, our goal is to expand public access and resources even further. We have established a new Studio and Gallery on Richmond Avenue that will host exhibits and programs. New partnerships with community organizations will build on foundations you have helped to create, and youth education programs will be enriched through strengthened relationships with local schools. Artists will engage in projects that give new expression to the site, and a regional scientific conference will showcase our research work. Connecting people to the Park, engaging young audiences, advancing scientific ecological research, and inspiring a commitment to care for our public lands are all principles that continue to guide our development. I am profoundly grateful for the support that keeps us true to our goals. I hope that you enjoy seeing our remarkable progress this year.

“This growing community is as diverse as the site it celebrates.”

Eloise Hirsh Freshkills Park Alliance President

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: View of the wetlands near phase one of North Park (Photo: Maryah Arangio); Free family activities at Discovery Day in June (Photo: Daniel Avila, NYC Parks); Birdwatching at Discovery Day in October (Photo: Michael McWeeney).


2017 Annual Report

In 2017, the NYC Parks Wildlife Unit mapped eight pairs of ospreys nesting by the waterways of Freshkills Park. These ospreys will likely return to Freshkills Park since osprey use the same nests year after year. Photo: Daniel Avila, NYC Parks

2017 Annual Report


Thank you to our partners Government Agencies NYC Department of Sanitation NYC Department of City Planning NYC Department of Transportation NYC Department of Environmental Protection NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene NYC Department of Design and Construction NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Office of Sustainability NYC Economic Development Corporation NYS Department of Environmental Conservation NYS Department of State, Division of Coastal Resources NYS Department of Transportation NYS Department of Health The New York State Department of State, Office of Coastal, Local Government & Community Sustainability has provided funding to support the Freshkills Park project under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.

Related City Initiatives Anchor Parks OneNYC Materials for the Arts MillionTreesNYC NYC Service NYC Nature Goals 2050 PlaNYC 2030 ReCAP Waterfront Vision 2020

Project Consultants AKRF Arup BioHabitats, Inc. DACK Geosyntec Green Shield Ecology (GSE) HAKS Integral James Corner Field Operations

Julep Consulting Langan Philip Habib and Associates Project Projects Rogers Surveying Sanna & Loccisano Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners Urban Arborists

Community Partners AHRC New York City City Parks Foundation Hilton Garden Inn New York Cares Office of Senator Lanza Showplace Entertainment Center Staten Island Mall Travis Civic Association

Recreation Partners

Kayak Staten Island Mid-Island Rotary National Park Service New York Road Runners Transportation Alternatives Staten Island Athletic Club Staten Island Bicycling Association

Academic Partners Barnard + Columbia Architecture City College of New York City University of New York College of Staten Island Columbia University GSAPP Cornell University AAP Gaynor McCown High School Institute for Collaborative Education Macaulay Honors College New York Harbor School Parsons School of Constructed Environments SVA Interaction Design

Cultural Partners AIANY/ Center for Architecture Archtober


Center for Book Arts Chasing Sanitation Classic Harbor Line Creative Time CSI WSIA DSNY Oral History Archive Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art Land Art Generator Initiative Make Music New York Municipal Arts Society New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) NYC Audubon New York Public Library Open House New York (OHNY) Protectors of Pine Oaks Woods Queens Museum Staten Island Arts Staten Island MakerSpace Staten Island Museum Staten Island OutLOUD! Urban Omnibus Waterfront Alliance

Science + Research Partners

American Museum of Natural History College of Staten Island CUNY Graduate Center Hunter College Montclair State University New Jersey City University New York University New York/New Jersey Baykeeper Rutgers University US Forest Service Yale University Wagner College

Donors and Sponsors (2017) Bloomberg Philanthropies College of Staten Island Con Edison Northwell Health NYC Service Patagonia Pratt Industries The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation Staten Island Foundation

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FROM LEFT: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director Steve Zahn, Freshkills Park Alliance President Eloise Hirsh, Staten Island Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, NYC Parks Staten Island Borough Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone, NYS Assemblyman Castorina’s Office Representative Christopher Sambataro, Congressman Dan Donovan’s Office Representative Pat Ryan, Freshkills Park Alliance Board Member Victoria Cerullo, Community Board 2 Parks Committee Chair Fred Guinta.

Capital Projects North Park Groundbreaking

In November, the Freshkills Park Alliance joined NYC Parks and NYC Sanitation (DSNY) to break ground on phase one of North Park. This milestone 21-acre project will be the first section inside the Fresh Kills Landfill boundaries to become public parkland. The project is expected to open to the public in 2020. North Park will offer pathways that connect visitors to a waterfront overlook deck and a bird observation tower, with views of Freshkills Park’s hills and waterways. It will also include a parking lot for visitors, with entrances located at the parking lot and at the adjacent Schmul Park. This exciting project is part of a multi-phase process to open North Park and other sections of Freshkills Park.

Upcoming Projects The South Park Anchor Park project will add recreational amenities while also creating opportunities to restore ecological communities 2017 Annual Report


and enhance the native woodlands. In 2017, progress continued on a design for the project, which is funded by Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. After gathering feedback from the public, the team of architects and planners have collected detailed ecological and topographical data to aid in developing the layout of the fields and other project elements in the park landscape. Investigation and permitting will continue, with a preliminary design underway. The 480-acre East Park project will offer expansive meadows, freshwater wetland ponds and creeks, and six miles of walking trails as well as a spectacular 3.5-mile bike loop. In 2017, NYC Parks completed the investigative work necessary to begin design of the elements of this project. This included floating a drilling rig down Richmond Creek to secure subsurface soil data. The design will include adding amenities and ensuring that the landfill infrastructure is protected. The scope of the design will be coordinated with DSNY’s maintenance and operation activities.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: North Park Phase One construction site (Photo: Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks); View of the South Park Anchor Park project site; View of the East Park project site (Photo: Sean Sweeney).


2017 Annual Report

FROM TOP: A male common yellowthroat and a young indigo bunting at the bird banding station; Researchers JosĂŠ RamĂ­rezGarofalo and Shannon Curley hold willow flycatchers at the bird banding station; Researchers travel by kayak to conduct their weekly water test.

2017 Annual Report


Scientific Research Freshkills Park is a platform for generating knowledge applicable to a range of urban environmental issues. In 2017, ongoing research projects continued to inform responsible and innovative strategies for sustainability and ecological restoration. Some projects are highlighted here.

nets and add small identification tags to their legs before releasing them. The program also records biological metrics of the banded birds in an effort to learn about the health of their populations. The information that is gathered at Freshkills Park is being added to large-scale data sets that increase understanding of bird productivity across the continent and assist in tracking species that visit the area. Highlights this season included Orchard Orioles and Willow Flycatchers.

Grassland Studies Researchers from the College of Staten Island, led by Dr. Richard R. Veit, again studied grassland bird populations. This year they observed the state-threatened Grasshopper Sparrow for the third consecutive year. They also counted a large increase from last year, which is a good sign for the viability of the grassland habitat. The researchers also observed nesting Spotted Sandpipers, American Woodcocks, Savannah Sparrows, and Killdeers. NYC Parks researchers continued investigations to determine the preferred habitat characteristics of these species on site, in an effort to create an adaptive management plan to preserve these characteristics as park projects are developed.

Bird Banding The bird banding station at Freshkills Park continued, led by Dr. Lisa Manne from the College of Staten Island. This project is part of a continent-wide initiation known as the MAPS Program (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship). Researchers catch birds using mist

Water Monitoring NYC Parks researchers expanded ecological water monitoring efforts this year through a partnership with the College of Staten Island (CSI) and the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC), a tri-state water and air pollution control agency for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Weekly water tests were conducted by kayak on Richmond Creek and Main Creek, where dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, and temperature were recorded. Samples were then deposited with the IEC lab at CSI, where they were tested for bacteria used as human health-related indicators of wastewater-related pollution. The measured concentrations met safe boating standards set by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and many of the weeks the levels were even within the swimmable limits. These data supplement the extensive air, surface water, and groundwater monitoring conducted by NYC Sanitation on a regular basis to ensure that the landfill infrastructure functions properly.





singing male grasshopper sparrows, with at least 21 fledged juveniles

species of grasses recorded in the grassland research study

individual birds banded, representing 19 different species

water monitoring trips


2017 Annual Report

Photos of You Photographers: Michael McWeeney, Dylan Gauthier, Jessa Orluk, Slanted Studios, Daniel Avila.

2017 Annual Report


Photos by You Photographers: Sean Sweeney, New York Adventure Club, Lynette Thompson, Nathan Kensinger, Jhila Farzaneh, José R. Ramírez, Daniel Avila, Sandy Patch, Jo Cavallo, Amanda Bielskas, Maryah Arangio.


2017 Annual Report

Art Artwork takes many shapes at Freshkills Park and in 2017, we saw many impressions and interpretations of the landscape through artistinitiated projects and artist-led experiences.

Field R/D In the spring, Freshkills Park partnered with guest curator Dylan Gauthier to launch Field R/D, the research and development phase of the expansive and collaborative art-research project around questions of land use, infrastructure, waterways as commons, and ecology. This phase of the project has been composed of independent and collaborative research, site visits and field trips, shared meals and seminarstyle conversations, film screenings, and lectures over the course of several months. This first year of the project concluded with a talk by author and anthropologist Robin Nagle at the Sunview Luncheonette in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Through this supported process, invited participants developed proposals for engaging with the landscape through visual and performing arts, written word, architecture, pedagogy, and multimedia. The first cohort’s work will be brought to the Park’s landscape in 2018 and represented in an exhibition and publication. This project is made possible with support from the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation Art and Social Justice Grant Program.

Windows into Freshkills Park “Windows into Freshkills Park” was completed and prepared for exhibition. The project is a miniature museum with four interactive



dioramas that tell stories of environmental history, technologies, wildlife at Freshkills Park, and its evolution as a new public space. Slanted Studios x MTN GODS incorporated different representational forms and depths, including compartments, models, and digital screens. Using their mobile phones, viewers can activate dynamic paper cuts with motors and lights and gain a deeper understanding of a given topic with an interactive voice response system. By providing a window into the landscape design of Freshkills Park, the modular exhibit is meant to inspire viewers to learn more about urban ecology in New York City’s built environment. This project is supported by funding from the Staten Island Foundation and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Inside the Bird Chorus Freshkills Park celebrated summer solstice on June 21 with Make Music New York for “Inside the Bird Chorus” where the woodlands and grasslands meet in South Park. Naturalist Seth Wollney led an auditory bird tour and trumpeter Volker Goetze accompanied their songs in a performance of original and improvisational compositions as the sun set on the longest day of the year.

Capturing Change The Capturing Change series of photography tours continued at Freshkills Park. These tours invite small groups of photographers to document the engineered landscape’s evolution, from landfill to park and across all the seasons in between.


Capturing Change photography Field R/D artists: “Windows into Freshkills Park” tour participants Gabri Christa, Billy Dufala / Dufala interactive dioramas Brothers, Mary Mattingly, Lize Mogel, Nancy Nowacek, Audrey Snyder & Joe Riley, Kendra Sullivan 2017 Annual Report


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Field R/D artists discuss topics of land use, infrastructure, waterways as commons, and ecology (Photo: Natalie Conn); One of four Windows into Freshkills Park interactive vignettes (Photo: Slanted Studios); Photographers explore the landscape during a Capturing Change photography tour (Photo: Sean Sweeney); Trumpeter Volker Goetz performs “Inside the Bird Chorus� during Make Music New York.


2017 Annual Report

Public Programs Freshkills Park is opening in phases from the outside in. During this transformation, the Freshkills Park Alliance is working with NYC Parks and NYC Sanitation to organize programs that invite the public to engage with the landfillto-park project. Thanks to a diverse calendar of programs, thousands of people were able to go behind the scenes and learn about Freshkills Park in 2017. These opportunities provide the public with a more tangible sense of the expansiveness of the site. Visitors are also able to observe wildlife, gain insight on New York City’s history and future, and take away a better sense of what the Park will offer as it continues to open.

York Road Runners organized two free coach-led group runs at the Park, and hundreds of people were able to run or walk the 3.1 mile and 6.2 mile courses. During regularly scheduled tours, visitors were able to participate in small-group guided experiences through the Park. Informative vehicle-based tours provided a number of groups with an overview of the project. These groups included representatives from Japan, Germany, Argentina, and other countries. Kayak tours invited people to paddle along the tidal waterways and see the landscape and wildlife from a unique perspective.

Events and Tours

The landfill-to-park transformation continues to serve as a poignant backdrop for education, with field trips and other activities offering students and teachers the chance to learn about history, engineering, and ecology of the site. This year hundreds of students visited the site for guided walks and activities at the Mobile Education Lab. The Mobile Education Lab is a workspace inside a reimagined trailer, with tools such as field guides, microscopes, and bookmaking supplies to help students fully explore Freshkills Park.

Events provided access to large sections of the 2,200-acre park so that the public could explore the transformation firsthand. Discovery Day events in June and October offered unparalleled access to hundreds of acres of the Freshkills Park site. Tours, bicycling, and interactive activities invite the general public to explore major sections of the future park. Events organized with community partners increased the variety of creative offerings. New 2017 Annual Report


Youth Education

Birdwatchers enjoy guided walks with NYC Audubon during Discovery Day events. In 2017, a variety of birds were observed, including redtailed hawks, great egrets, willow flycatchers, indigo buntings, killdeer, and savannah sparrows.

Volunteers In order to support the programming and help maintain the open sections of the Park, volunteers participated in a variety of activities in 2017. These activities ranged from removing invasive plants during neighborhood park cleanups to assisting visitors at Discovery Day events. By taking care of completed park projects and serving as ambassadors to the public, volunteers are helping the landfill-to-park transformation move forward.

8,444 people engaged through programming, including events, presentations, kayak tours, field trips, and volunteer cleanups

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: NYC Audubon leads a birdwatching tour during Discovery Day (Photo: Michael McWeeney); The Mobile Education Lab is a workshop on wheels, with materials used during activities with K-12 students; Volunteers at Discovery Day (Photo: Michael McWeeney).


2017 Annual Report

Discovery Day

In 2017, the Freshkills Park Alliance supplied 107 bikes across two Discovery Day events. This allowed hundreds of visitors to bike through the Park for free without needing to bring their own bicycle.

Discovery Day events provide access to five miles of paved paths for bicycling.

2017 Annual Report

Visitors of all ages can make and fly kites on top of a scenic hill.


The Alliance sponsors shuttle transportation at Discovery Day events, including a shuttle to and from the Staten Island Ferry terminal. This makes it possible for visitors to attend these events without needing to drive.

For one day, the public has free access to hundreds of acres and miles of trails.

These events are just one of many opportunities to explore and learn about the landfill-to-park project. Photos: Michael McWeeney


2017 Annual Report

About the Alliance Support the Freshkills Park Alliance with a donation today!

The Freshkills Park Alliance partners with NYC Parks to champion the transformation of the Fresh Kills Landfill into an extraordinary 2,200 acre world class amenity. Since 2010, the Alliance has been cultivating resources to help bring this remarkable asset to the public and to serve the needs of the Park’s diverse constituencies for decades to come. The Alliance works to ensure the Park’s evolution and continuing operation by raising financial resources; promoting environmental research and ecological restoration; engaging advocates and volunteers; and sponsoring a broad range of recreational, cultural, and educational programs. The Alliance is dedicated to establishing Freshkills Park as a model for sustainable waterfront land reclamation, a source of pride for Staten Island and New York City, and a gift of open space for future generations.

2017 Annual Report


Through donations and sponsorships, the Freshkills Park Alliance funds programs and projects that connect the public directly to the Park’s landscape and transformation. These programs and projects demonstrate our ability to turn damaged lands into resilient and productive landscapes and support the creation of innovative artistic and scientific partnerships that inspire questions and new ideas. Educational programming and outreach also provide important opportunities to raise ecological awareness and demonstrate that public investment in New York City’s urban landscapes benefits all citizens. Explore more at:

Alliance Board Members

The Alliance is supported by NYC Parks Staff

Paul Ainslie Victoria Cerullo

Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP Borough Commissioner Lynda Ricciardone

Dr. William J. Fritz

Freshkills Park Development Team

Nancy Hechinger

Park Administrator Eloise Hirsh

Eloise Hirsh Ken Iwama

Park Development Manager Laura Truettner

Jim Perazzo, P.G. Brendan Sexton

Landscape Architect Andrew Deer

Allan Weissglass

Assistant Landscape Architect Kimberley Butta

Joanne Witty Edward Burke (ex officio)

Logistics + Administrative Coordinator Shane Gardiner

Joshua Laird (ex officio) Lynda Ricciardone (ex officio)


Manager for Science + Research Development Dr. Cait Field Manager for Programs, Arts + Grants Mariel VillerĂŠ Communications + Programs Coordinator Megan Moriarty Education Programming Associates Terrance Caviness Catherine Montalvo

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Join us! For updates on park progress and programs, join the mailing list through our website: Subscribe to our e-newsletter at Follow and tag @freshkillspark

Visit for the next opportunity to explore closed sections of the landfill-to-park project.

and the Freshkills Park Alliance Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP Mayor Bill de Blasio

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are Š The City of New York and Š Freshkills Park 2017 Annual Report