A little less than two decades ago, the last steaming load of garbage arrived at Fresh Kills Landfill. A packed-high barge turned slowly out of the Arthur Kill — that long, dishwater-brown tidal strait that separates Staten Island from New Jersey — and then docked at the Sanitation Department’s pier, an event celebrated less as a matter of ecological stewardship at the time than a triumph of not-in-my-backyard politics.
I remember the last barge because I happened to be there. It was March 22, 2001, and I was embedded with the Department of Sanitation’s film crew, greeting the barge from the rain-soaked deck of what is known to the Sanitation Department navy as a trash skimmer, a little boat that snags flotsam, like a mechanized sea gull. The barge had set off that morning from a transfer station in College Point, Queens, heading south into the East River. Fireboats saluted the trash with water cannons, and as it passed Gracie Mansion, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani saluted it from his front lawn.
About an hour later, Mr. Giuliani was at Fresh Kills himself, standing amid garbage hills 200 feet tall, alongside Staten Island’s borough president, Guy Molinari, and Gov. George E. Pataki. These three Republicans had worked together to close the dump that Mr. Molinari’s father first protested when it opened in 1948, a time when Fresh Kills was a saltwater marsh where kids swam. After 1948, it became an ecological nightmare and a political hot potato. A banner behind the politicians read, “A Promise Made, a Promise Kept.”
“No more garbage for the people of Staten Island,” said Governor Pataki.
Today, Fresh Kills has been rebranded as Freshkills, and the park that is now at the site of the old dump is poised to accept visitors: the North Park will open in spring 2021, the rest by 2036.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/nyregion/freshkills-garbage-dump-nyc.htmlHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!
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