Discovery Day 2019 Recap
With temperatures climbing into the 80s this weekend, over one thousand visitors flocked to Freshkills Park for a warm edition of Discovery Day, a chance to experience the world’s largest landfill-to-park project as it continues to undergo development. Though the park is normally closed, events such as Discovery Day give visitors a chance to see what this former waste dump now has to offer in the way of passive and active recreation, wildlife habitat, and innovative engineering.
Over the course of the day, a number of activities were offered. Visitors had the opportunity to choose between a variety of guided tours, themed around topics such as landfill history, photography, birdwatching, and nature bingo. Hands-on activity stations were set up throughout the park featuring recycled wind-chime-making, plein-air drawing, kite-making, and STEM-themed materials at the Mobile Education Lab, to name a few. Bikes were available for checkout for those wishing to freely roam the reclaimed landscape at their own pace.
The energy in the air at Discovery Day was palpable, especially among those who were first-time visitors of the park. Visitors from all five boroughs, New Jersey, and beyond were present and many shared their positive sentiments, calling Freshkills a “Staten Island treasure”, “great fun”, and a wonderful way to experience “change, nature, and history”. Smiles were plentiful, as children flew kites, birdwatchers spotted Osprey, and bicyclists made their way through open terrain.
Commonly asked was “when will the park open?”, and staff were happy to answer with news of North Park Phase One, a development of 21 acres of trails set to open within Freshkills Park in just a couple of years. With over one thousand visitors coming to events like Discovery Day and developments like North Park Phase One on the horizon, it was clear to all that Freshkills had come a long way from its origins as New York City’s garbage dump.
Special thanks go out to all of our community partners that took part in Discovery Day, including Alice Austen House, NYC Audubon, Urban Park Rangers, Staten Island Museum, Artist James Powers, Artist Skip LaPlante, Materials for the Arts, Artist Daniel Fishkin, and the Parks Play Mobile. Your enthusiasm, positive attitudes, and passion played a big role in the success of this event. Thank you also to the dozens of New York Road Runner Volunteers that assisted with the event!