Resident Support for a Landfill-to-Park Transformation


  • Christine A. Vogt Michigan State University
  • David B. Klenosky Purdue University
  • Stephanie A. Snyder USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
  • Lindsay K. Campbell USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station



urban park development, sustainability, adaptive reuse, Freshkills, New York City


Globally, landfills are being transformed into other uses because land resources are scarce, property values are increasing, and governments seek to reduce urban blight and adaptively reuse space. Park planners and city managers are likely to find that gauging public perceptions of a landfill-to-park transformation and promoting such sites to potential visitors as highly challenging tasks, but important components of sustainability efforts. A landfill-to-park project currently underway is the transformation of the former Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island, New York into Freshkills Park. Understanding supporters of and visitors to the park can inform the implementation of the transformation. The present research draws from consumer behavior, urban geography, and park studies to examine how residents’ place attachment, familiarity with, attitude toward, intent to visit, and support for the site varies by proximity to and experience history with the site. A mail survey to a random sample of Staten Island households was implemented to study early adoption of a former landfill as a recreation site. The survey results showed those living close to the site were more familiar with the new park and had stronger intent to visit once opened, compared to those living further away; a finding consistent with past research. As hypothesized, residents with the least history with the site were found to be less familiar with the site and hold less place identification with Staten Island. Longtime residents, going as far back as the pre-landfill era, were most familiar with the area’s parks and the Fresh Kills site and held the highest place identity with Staten Island. Support for the landfill-to-park transformation was generally positive across all respondent subgroups. Overall, this research shows that proximity and experience history were relevant in understanding area residents’ familiarity with, attitudes toward, support for, and intent to visit the park site. This research is helping New York City planners and recreation managers reach local residents and connect them to the site. Urban park professionals can draw from this research by examining distance from park and length of residency to understand how low levels of support or intent to visit may be related to concerns about recreating at former landfill sites.

Author Biography

Christine A. Vogt, Michigan State University

ProfessorDepartment of Community SustainabilityMichigan State University





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