Highlights from the September 18 Discovery Day

On Sunday September 18, visitors had a chance to explore and learn about the Freshkills Park project at the last Discovery Day event of the year. These events open hundreds of acres and miles of trails in the normally closed park so the public can witness the landfill-to-park transformation firsthand.

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    DSNY's Robin Geller leads a tour about the landfill's history and transformation.
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    Hiking the hills of the former Fresh Kills Landfill.
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    Thanks to our volunteers for helping to make events like Discovery Day possible.
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    The park's new Mobile Education Lab was on display.
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    Visitors walked and biked across normally closed sections of the landfill-to-park project at Discovery Day.

Even though the weather was humid and overcast during the event, over 800 people still came to bike, explore, and enjoy the day. As always, we were amazed at people’s reactions to the park, particularly former DSNY workers who had not been there since it was an operating landfill. Because they are so familiar with the history of the site, it’s especially exciting to see them experience the entirely changed landscape.

People of all ages were enthusiastic participants in the activities offered, including the shelter building workshop co-led by the Urban Park Rangers and artist Tattfoo Tan and bookmaking with UnCommon Pages paper. Parsons students experiencing the Park for the first time gathered feedback from event visitors and visualized that on a mobile billboard.

We were also happy about the community connections that were made. More and more people are realizing that Freshkills Park’s off-street bike and pedestrian path, the New Springville Greenway, is a valuable resource for Staten Island, and it was clear that visitors and volunteers alike were having conversations about the access and benefits of the greenway. Those who have used the Greenway and got to bike across the 3.5 mile loop at Discovery Day were excited about the future of connections at the park.

More than fifty volunteers helped out at the event, and many of them went above and beyond to engage with visitors and make it a meaningful experience. They were stationed across the park, taking initiative in answering questions, sharing their love of the park, enlivening and activating the open paths, and already thinking about volunteering more in the future.

During this Discovery Day, visitors were able to bring their own bikes or borrow one at the park to ride on five miles of paved paths, including a three mile loop along meadows and wetland ponds. They were also able to make and fly kites on top of a scenic hill, and Freshkills Park’s brand new Mobile Education Lab was on display with staff-led activities for the first time.

We are so grateful for all who offered guided tours, activities, and amenities at this Discovery Day: NYC Audubon, Robin Geller of NYC Sanitation, the Staten Island Greenbelt, NYC ZeroWaste, Tattfoo Tan, Urban Park Rangers, Eva Neves, New York Cares, Con Edison, NYC Parks and Recreation, Richmond University Medical Center, and the NYC Compost Project.

Discovery Day was presented by the Freshkills Park Alliance, NYC Parks, and NYC Sanitation with support from Pratt Industries, Northwell Health, and the College of Staten Island. For more information join the mailing list and follow @freshkillspark on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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