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Where the metropolis once dumped smelly trash in massive numbers is now Fresh Kills Park in Staten Island County. The park is on track to be declared the largest trash-to-park project on the planet.
The 2,200-acre (890-hectare) site is the city's largest park in more than 100 years. It has trails and meadows for hiking and biking.
The park will be fully completed in 2035, but some sections are already accessible on a limited basis for personal tours and school groups. Since 2010, it has hosted nature walks, bird watching groups, kite fliers, and kayak tours.
Later this month, 280 hectares (700 acres) will be temporarily opened to the public for one of the tours that take place through the park three times a year.
"We have something almost every weekend," said Cait Field, park manager for science and research development.
Visitors who knew the old garbage dump have said that the transformation, although partial, is remarkable.
New York Audubon naturalist Clifford Hagen, who leads birding tours through Fresh Kills, recalls the putrid odors that emerged from the site, now coated with a protective coating and dirt.
Today, "it only has the natural smells of the swamps, with the arrival and withdrawal of the tides," he said.
"It is always a special moment for everyone when they step onto the site for the first time," Hagen said. “Then once you go up the hills, you can see the industries of New Jersey and you can see the Freedom Tower in Manhattan and all the commercial development right outside on Staten Island and you realize that you are in the middle of New York City ”.
For five decades after its opening in 1948, Fresh Kills was the city's main garbage dump.
The last regular delivery of a garbage barge was in 2001, when the site was closed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in part in response to Staten Islanders protesting that it was the city's landfill.
Currently, the city's garbage is sent to landfills in South Carolina, Virginia, and a waste conversion plant in New Jersey.
On a recent visit, the park looked quiet, without a hint of foul odor. The seagulls that once fed on the 150 million tons of household garbage have been replaced by nearly 200 species of birds. An osprey was sitting on its nest while some hawks flew over the area.Ecoportal.net