City announces capital funding for Gov. Island


BY Aline Reynolds

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed to allocate $260 million in capital funds towards the overhaul of Governors Island, according to an announcement he made concerning the city’s 2012-21 preliminary capital plan on February 17.

Infrastructure improvements include updating the island’s utilities, stabilizing its historic buildings and restoring potable water.

The city money will finance the Trust for Governors Island’s park and public space master plan, which will carve out 22 acres of green space for more than 2,000 new trees. The plan also encompasses significant renovations to the island’s gateways, including Soissons Landing; and the creation of recreational fields, courtyards, and hammock-filled open space.

Using these city funds, the Trust for Governors Island will continue to overhaul the 1.4 million square feet of historic buildings for future tenants’ reuse; bring the island’s half-century-old electric and telecommunication systems up to date; invest in the piers and other marine infrastructure along the Manhattan and Governors Island waterfronts; and demolish high-rise buildings from the Coast Guard era to make room for open space.

In addition, South Battery, currently an asphalt play area, will be transformed into acres of lawn and shrubs intended to showcase the island’s historic presence.

“When the City took control of Governors Island from the State last year, Mayor Bloomberg committed to investing the funds necessary to transform it into one of the world’s great waterfront parks and to build infrastructure to sustain future uses,” said the Mayor’s Governors Island Spokesperson, Andrew Brent.

Brent continued, “The capital investments bring the infrastructure of the island into the 21st century and transform the island with extraordinary public spaces, designed by West 8, that build upon the island’s unparalleled setting in New York Harbor, the preservation of its historic landscape and its place as a playground for the arts, culture and recreation.”

The Trust for Governor’s Island released a statement, saying, “The Bloomberg Administration’s ten-year capital plan is a strong and critical investment in Governors Island’s future. The capital plan funds significant improvements in the Island’s infrastructure and historic structures, and expands the first phase of the park and public spaces.”

“With two extraordinary new ball fields and places for art and play,” the statement continued, “these new spaces create wonderful recreational opportunities for the residents of Lower Manhattan and neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.”

“Investing in Governors Island is a vital step as we build an extraordinary amenity for the community and the city,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron in a statement. These dollars, he added, will move the city closer to realizing his vision of a unified Harbor Park, a “‘Central Park’ for the center of our city.”

Councilmember Margaret Chin said she commends the Bloomberg administration for investing in Governors Island and “working to ensure a bright future for this historic area.” Chin said she looks forward to participating in a “new chapter” of the island’s history.

“This transformation,” Chin said, “will make Governors island a destination for New Yorkers looking to enjoy the outdoors and take in the cityscape from a new perspective.”

The first finished areas of the park and public space will be Liggett Terrace, a six-acre courtyard with a play area, plantings, food vendors and seating; Hammock Grove, which will have trees, open space and hammocks; and the Play Lawn, 12 acres of open space that will comprise two new ball fields and clay infields.

Construction of the island’s park and public spaces will begin in late 2012 as scheduled. They are slated to open in 2013.

The city’s ten-year capital budget is due for City Council approval on or before June 30, 2011.