Thursday, May 6, 2010

ACTIVITY 10- Freshkills Park by CAITLIN BUTLER

On Wed. May 5th, 2010 I went on a fieldtrip to Freshkills Park with other people from my Urban Studies class. At first I was confused at what time exactly I had to catch the ferry, but I ended up taking the ferry in time, which was good. The ferry to Staten Island was free! That was the best part. When I first got on the ferry, I could not believe how big it was. It reminded me of the Titanic ship. I am used to taking ferries when I go out to Long Island for the summer, but this boat was ten times bigger than the one I take. When we got off the ferry, we met up with Dough, our tour guide at Au Bon Pain. Then we all went on the bus and drove for half an hour until we reached Freshkills Park in Staten Island. Dough told us about the park itself and how it used to be one of the biggest landfills in New York. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation team are working to rebuild the landfill into a Freshkills park, so that the public could enjoy activities such as biking, hiking, skiing, baseball park, kayaking, etc. In the New York Article it said how there are lots of birders that come to Freshkills Park to watch all the different types of birds there. Even Dough told us how there are lots of birds here. And while on the bus he pointed out to us this big nest that this bird was in. The bird was huge! I forget what kind it was but it was a grayish colored bird, watching over its babies. It was very cool thing to see. I love nature and animals so for me it was pretty cool. I wish I could have spotted a red-tailed hawk on this trip though. O well, I can always come back once the park opens up to the public, which Dough said would open up sometime next year. I was really shocked when Dough told us that FreshKills Park will be the second largest Park next to Pelham Bay Park. I did not know that. See what you can learn just by listening to your tour guide! In the NY Times article titled, “Turning Trash Piles Into a Bird-Watcher’s Paradise”, the birders were complaining how now there aren’t enough birds that they can see, compared to when it was a dump. They said they couldn’t see the birds now because they had closed down their food sources. There are now only hundreds are low thousands bird remaining in the park compared to more in the past before the rebuilding of the landfill. The thing that also shocked me was when we were asked in the bus to sign this sheet of paper that promised not to hold the Sanitation Department responsible for injuries or death at the landfill. I was like well why are they taking us where it is dangerous. But it ended up being okay anyways. There was no danger there that I could sense. So, I was also very happy about that! Dough took us to see North and South mound, but it will soon be called North and South Park once the park opens up to the public. North mound was much taller than South mound. It went up to 150 feet as the NY times article stated. When I saw it, it looked very big. It also says how it will be a viewing platform there for the birders, which should make all the birders out there very happy. As long as no one hurts the wildlife there, I am all for the platform building. When Dough took us out onto the stones to step on, I asked him a question. I asked him if anyone can just come up here on their own and he said no. The only way you can come up here is through the tour. I wanted to know this question because I am interested in shooting up there with my camera. I really liked the scenery of the place. It was overall very open, green and calm looking. Another thing that I learned from Dough was how Freshkill park get its name. Dough said that the name means fresh water in Dutch, which makes total sense if one thinks about it. He also said that some people in Staten Island were confused on the new park being built. Some wanted this and some did not. I really liked this trip overall. Besides the hassle of actually getting there, it was really all worth it in the end. I got to learn about things I did not know before and I got to see just how beautiful this park is and is going to be. It’s incredible how something so disgusting like a waste fill place can get built into something really nice. Now, I will just have to wait and see the new park when it actually opens up and do some of the activities there!

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