In terms of trees, suburban sprawl and scenery, there is not much to distinguish New York's Long Island from any other specific place in the country. It suffers all the usual national problems, including junk—which is piling up something awful. But now, slowly, something is happening to that junk. Long Island is affecting a marriage between, of all things, garbage and sport.
Well, why not? Most communities have too much of one and probably could use more of the other. Ecologically, the move is overdue. And Long Island's sporting dump is not entirely original—a lot of cities are on to the idea now. Here is what some of them have already done:
West Berliners built Mount Junk, an artificial hill made out of wartime bombing rubble, and it now has everything from a ski jump to a vineyard.
A huge mound of garbage sits outside Norfolk, Va. called, with a certain touch of folksy genius, Mount Trash-more. It is 60 feet high and is being converted into a recreation park.
Pittsburgh trucks its 900 to 1,000 tons of daily refuse 20 miles out of town, dumps it into old strip-mines, plants the settled debris with shrubbery, stocks the areas with game and opens them to public hunting.
In Los Angeles, refuse has been a part of recreational planning for half a century; some landfill projects in the area actually tailor the stuff to fit the desired contour of the land.
Now that Long Island has discovered sporting garbage—discovered that it is far easier to love debris than leave it—the area promises to produce the big daddy dump of all. Sanitary landfill—remember that term—is the secret. Sanitary landfill uses "solid waste," which takes in a whole world of rubbish, garbage and trash, then compacts it and buries it out of sight under topsoil. But if that sounds too easy, the system is reaching artistic heights at the township of Brookhaven. Using solid wastes, workers are converting the existing landfill site at Brookhaven's Holtsville village into a Sports City.
Through the use of "berms," or earth walls made of refuse, what now resembles a typical East Coast dump—complete with a million sea gulls—will become a 74-acre complex containing 16 tennis courts, 15 handball courts, four basketball courts, two football fields, six baseball fields, a 7,000-seat stadium and several swimming and wading pools. The complex also will feature 700 new trees and open space for picnics, games, walks and people who just want to dig the whole concept—as long as they don't dig too deep.
"This is one of the first designed and planned landfill projects that produces a recreational and park program for a whole community, instead of a one-shot project," says George A. Dudley, who oversees the venture as president of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. "In the past, the concept of solid-waste landfill was just that," says Architect Norval C. White, the project planner. "You filled up an empty space until it was level with the space adjacent. After it was full and flat, you drew lines and said, 'This is a football field or this is a baseball field.' The difference here is that we're now using the material to create topography. Solid waste becomes a three-dimensional part of the facility."
It also becomes a tremendous cost saver. Surrounding communities will be paying more than $11 a ton for waste disposal when pollution-control devices are added to existing incineration facilities, according to Brookhaven Supervisor Charles W. Barraud. The Holtsville project will cost a mere $3.05 per ton. Brook-haven's 243,000 residents—generating one ton of garbage each—will produce a quarter of a million tons annually at the cost of $750,000. The town will pay the bills, but the nonprofit EFC will deed the land to Brookhaven and extend the payment period over more than 20 years. The landfill should be completed by the end of 1972 and the entire project in operation before 1976, in time to meet the 200th anniversary of a nation that suddenly has grown garbage conscious.