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Fresh Kills' Evolution from Landfill to Park Examined in Documentary

By Nicholas Rizzi | September 11, 2012 4:21pm

STATEN ISLAND — A documentary on the transformation of Fresh Kills from the world's largest garbage dump into one of the city's largest park will premiere next week in St. George.

"Fresh Kills Story" was produced by Borough President James Molinaro's office and tells the story of how the former Fresh Kills Landfill was closed and turned into a 2,200 acre park, larger than Central Park.

"It's probably the biggest issue in the history of Staten Island, no question about that," former Borough President Guy V. Molinari said in the trailer for the film.

By 1955, Fresh Kills became the largest landfill in the world, and received as much as 29,000 tons of trash per day at its peek in the 80s, according to the New York City Parks Department.

"It had become, over a period of years, a serious health hazard for the people of Staten Island," said former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the trailer.

In 2001, the city closed the Fresh Kills landfill and the started the planning process to transform it into a park in 2003, according to the Parks Department.

While the landfill officially got its last barge of waste in March 2001, the park was used to sort through much of the debris from 9/11, the Parks Department said.

Families of 9/11 victims said there were human remains included in the debris at Fresh Kills and accused the city of mishandling the sifting process, DNAinfo.com reported in 2009.

The hour long documentary will detail the fight by residents and government officials to close Fresh Kills landfill, and will show the proposed future for what will be the borough's largest park, according to Molinaro's office.

The park will feature bike and walking paths, wind and solar energy facilities, and roadways open to the public, according to Molinaro's office.

Molinaro will host a free screening on September 20, at 7 p.m. at the St. George Theatre. The documentary will be followed by a question and answers session with a panel of people influential in closing the dump and people active in the transformation.

And for movie goers who want to check out the park itself, the Parks Department will host their annual "Sneak Peak at Freshkills Park," on September 23. The free event will feature walking tours of the park, biking, kite flying, kayaking and other activities.