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Entrance to Huge Freshkills Park Opens in Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 5, 2012 8:40am

STATEN ISLAND — The Travis park that will serve as an entrance to Freshkills Park has become Staten Island's newsest open space.

Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica White, along with Borough President James Molinaro, Councilman James Oddo, and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, officially opened Schmul Park, on Wilde Avenue and Pearson Street, Thursday.

The opening was watched by a group of fifth-graders from PS 26.

"This is a beautiful park," Molinaro said. "It's beyond anything I had imagined."

The $6.5 million renovation of Schmul Park, funded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, broke ground in 2010, according to the Parks Department.

The park features a lighted pathway that will serve as an entrance into the future North Park of Freshkills Park, one of the first sections of the former landfill that will be opened to the public, said Eloise Hirsh, Freshkills' administrator.

"This is like a down payment on the Freshkills park transformation," Hirsh said.

The eight acre park has swing sets, spray showers, a large lawn, a sand box, handball courts, basketball courts, a softball field and what the Parks Department describes as an "ecologically sensitive" comfort station.

The restrooms will be lit with natural light, rainwater from the roof will be captured for a garden, and the counter tops will be made from recycled glass and concrete, according to Parks.

The land, which was previously a working farm, was a gift to the city by Louis and Hermine Schmul in 1938, according to the Parks Department.

Oddo said the renovated park will be a great addition to Travis, one of his favorite communities in the borough.

"There's something awful special about this community, it's sort of the last vestige of Americana on Staten Island," he said. "The fact that they have a wonderful park that's worthy of this community is a great thing."

Local resident Janice Blanchard, 48, who volunteers with her husband Nick and a group of locals to clean up nearby Independence Park, said they were excited to have another park added to the community.

"I think it's a huge asset to this community," she said. "It's colorful, it's lively, the children love it."