Ground has broken on the renovation of the 8-acre Schmul Park in Travis, Staten Island, the second major project in the development of the 2,200-acre Freshkills Park.

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The $6.5 million Schmul Park, named for the Schmul Family who donated a piece of their farm to the city in 1939 will include a new playground with a spray shower, handball and basketball courts, a lawn area, native plantings and a new green comfort station that features a rain garden. Schmul Park will serve as a gateway into Freshkills Park, the largest landfill-to-park project in the country.

Upon its completion, Freshkills Park will have five main areas including the Confluence, North Park, South Park, East Park and West Park. In 2008, the first project of Freshkills Park, the 28-acre Owl Hollow soccer fields in Arden Heights went under construction and is expected to open in the fall of 2011. Development of the park will continue in phases through 2036 focusing on creating early interventions and public access in the North and South Parks while the East and West Parks undergo landfill capping procedures. The park will also feature diverse habitats for wildlife and natural settings for recreational sports activities not typical in the city such as horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails and large-scale public art and cultural programming.

“When we finish transforming Freshkills into one of the city’s largest parks, nearly one-third of Staten Island will be public parkland,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Representative Michael McMahon and State Assembly Member Lou Tobacco.

Schmul Park is expected to open in the fall of 2011.