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Study examines roads, wind turbines at Staten Island’s Fresh Kills

A proposed shortcut connecting Richmond Avenue with the West Shore Expressway likely will have one lane in each direction when construction starts on Staten Island as early as next year.

But the two roads planned to cut through the future Fresh Kills Park will leave enough space on their sides to be expanded to four lanes in the future – or even before they’re completed – if they prove popular and traffic demands it, according to an environmental study of the planned 2,200-acre park.

More studies would also have to be conducted to see whether it would be feasible to construct wind turbines on still-settling landfill mounds that are close to bird migratory paths and could potentially be harmful to birds and bats, the draft Environmental Impact Statement [EIS], released today, said.

The road network and potential for wind energy were two closely watched hallmark projects in the design of Fresh Kills Park, and strongly pushed in recent years by Borough President James Molinaro. A final master plan – or a blueprint for the massive park that will be twice the size of Central Park – should be completed by the end of the year, officially mapping Fresh Kills as parkland.

“In sum, the proposed Fresh Kills Park would establish a much-needed and vast new public park resource for the city of New York,” the draft EIS states. It points out numerous public benefits including “protecting ecological habitats; providing for expansive active and passive recreation; promoting public waterfront access; and improving site access and the local transportation networks through new park roads and bikeways, walkways, and trails.”

The release of the draft EIS marks a major milestone for the Fresh Kills project, which has been in the planning stages for nearly five years. Besides starting a four-month public comment period – which will culminate with a public meeting and release of a final EIS in September – will also start a 6-to-7-month land review process with public hearings before and votes taken by members of all three Island community boards, the Borough Board, the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

— Contributed by Glenn Nyback

Staten Island Advance

19 May 2008