Staten Island landfill to be turned into park

April 5, 2010 3:49:02 PM PDT
A once-poisonous landfill used for illegally dumping is being turned into city park on Staten Island. The city on Monday launched a five-year project to transform the Brookfield Landfill into a 132-acre park.

After decades of waiting, city leaders will finally transform the landfill from an eyesore to plush green space.

"Ten thousand people live within a quarter mile of this, including a church, a Catholic school and a nursery," Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said. "It was a danger to each and every one of them. Today, it's a blessing."

Thirty years ago, the landfill was shut down over an illegal dumping scandal. Tens of thousands of gallons of toxic industrial waste were dumped at the Great Kills site.

"It was rotting garbage that crept into your house," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "You couldn't sleep, especially in the summer. Imagine leaving your garbage can in your house for three and four days. That's what it smelled like when the wind blew our way."

Bloomberg, along with city and state leaders, promised the project will transform the contaminated site into a 132-acre park.

The remediation work will be completed in 2015. Trees and shrubs go in by 2017. People will get to enjoy the park in less than 10 years.

A year and a half after ago, a group of neighbors banned together and sued the city for failing to clean it up. They got their demands.

Still, some are worried if cleaning up will make it worse.

"What if the toxins go up?" neighbor Joyce Monti said. "What then?"

"I'd rather leave it alone," another neighbor said. "Let sleeping dogs lie. Now, they say they're building a park. Am I going in that park? No...Would I tell my neighbors to let their kids in that park? Absolutely not."