The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

World's Fair at Former Staten Island Landfill Site Among Plans for New Park

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 22, 2016 5:48pm
 Vendors pitched a farm and restaurant, a World's Fair event and more in an RFEI for Freshkills Park.
Vendors pitched a farm and restaurant, a World's Fair event and more in an RFEI for Freshkills Park.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

TRAVIS — The next World's Fair could be held on Staten Island's former landfill site, according to a proposal.

The proposal — which would include a gondola — is one of the projects pitched for a new park being built at Freshkills.

Others include a restaurant serving produce grown on farm in the park, a horse stable and riding trails and an indoor soccer complex. They were submitted in response to a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued last year by the Parks Department and Borough President James Oddo.

"We don't believe that those of us in the city government have a monopoly on creativity and good ideas," Oddo said.

"If you leave it to the Parks Department we will not tap into the creativity and the vision of the private sector."

While the opening of Freshkills to the public isn't expected until 2025, Oddo said he's working with the city to vet the feasibility of the proposals.

"This property was such a negative for Staten Island for so long, I think it's incumbent on the elected officials to ensure that we maximize it for the most benefit to Staten Islanders," Oddo said. 

"This has to be a Staten Island agenda. This can't be an agency agenda or an administrative off of Staten Island agenda, we have to be very aggressive in driving this agenda so that it fits what we want and what we need." 

The five proposals submitted for the 2,039-acre park — which is opening in several phases — include a $5 million plan to build horse stables and riding trails in the south section and a $2 million indoor sports complex.

The other plans call for a five-acre farm — where crops would be sold at a farmer's market and served at a restaurant inside — and a 21,000-square-foot indoor soccer center.

The biggest plan submitted in the RFEI is an idea to host an event similar to the World's Fair, which would take over most of the park and include infrastructure upgrades like expanded ferry systems and light rail to connect to New Jersey.

The proposal also included a plan to build a gondola to connect sections of the park to other areas in the borough.

"As Freshkills Park emerges as the largest park developed by New York City in more than 100 years, it has limitless potential for ideas to activate its sites for public use," said Mario López, a spokesman for the Parks Department.

"We are pleased to have received several proposals in response to the RFEI with visions for new amenities to enhance the park while improving the quality of life for its visitors. Parks will be assessing the feasibility of these ideas for the emerging Freshkills Park."

Aside from the proposals, Oddo also called on the city to fund roads through the park that would connect Richmond Avenue to the West Shore Expressway to help alleviate congestion.

"This is for traffic that exists already," Oddo said.

"This is not going to draw another SUV from Pennsylvania, this is not going to draw another station wagon from Weehawken, this is intra-island traffic that exists today that goes a very circuitous route."

Last year, the Department of Design and Construction released a preliminary design for the street that is estimated to cost about $120 million to build.

Oddo also sent letters to Parks asking the department to agree that the start of construction on the next section of the park near Richmond Avenue would not put anything in place that could prevent the roads being built down the line.

"We have also supported the creation of the roads since the beginning of the Freshkills Park project," López said.

"They are important both for cross site traffic and for park access. We are counting on the future roads project and fully support funding requests for design and construction."

A spokeswoman for the mayor's office said they already funded a $2 million pre-scoping study for the plan and the preliminary budget has about $50 million allocated to fund capital plans for Parks.

"We look forward to working with the Borough President and the Council on this and much more throughout the budget process," the spokeswoman said in a statement.