By DANIEL IVKO, age 13 and IndyKids STAFF

Once finished, Freshkills Park will be three times bigger than Central Park. PHOTO: Jamie Allen
Once finished, Freshkills Park will be three times bigger than Central Park. PHOTO: Jamie Allen

Freshkills Park, a project undertaken in 2008, is currently being built in Staten Island. It is an example of environmentally sustainable landfill reclamation, or the process of turning a landfill back into usable land.

Once finished, it will be three times bigger than Central Park. This park will have four sections that will include cycling, pedestrian and horseback riding paths, as well as sports fields. The park will also contain 47 acres of solar power farms that will be able to power 2,000 homes. Staten Island residents who live next to the park will be the first ones to receive solar energy in their homes. The whole project will be funded by the city for $14 million.

Freshkills Park is being built on the former Fresh Kills landfill that operated from 1947 to 2001. A landfill is a place where waste material is dumped, and then covered with soil. Landfills can be harmful to the environment due to the gases they give off as trash breaks down. In order to clean up Fresh Kills, engineers came up with a way to contain the waste below the soil while also trapping the methane gas emissions. The gas is then transported to a purification plant and sold to a natural gas company to power New York City homes. While natural gas may be cleaner than other forms of energy like coal and petroleum, it is still a big contributor to rising CO2 emissions, which is why the park’s solar program is so important.

In a 2013 press conference about the project, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “Freshkills was once the site of the largest landfill in the world. Soon it will be one of the city’s largest parks, and the site of the largest solar power installation ever developed within the five boroughs.”