No bus plan is no answer

Volume 19 | Issue 29 | December 01 – 07, 2006


No need for fantasies on Governors Island

Our optimistic side sees that with each failed effort on Governors Island, officials may actually learn a little bit. The revelation that nobody submitted a viable plan to develop the island earlier this year has led to the newest in a series of “can’t miss” strategies. Bring more people to the island this summer, set up a design competition for a public park and build it – then we’ll get enough people visiting to get investors interested in proposing a feasible, long-term use for the island, so the new thinking goes.

Sounds reasonable to us as long as officials focus on one step at a time. The Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, the state-city authority managing the island, made a smart decision this year by expanding access to the island and Leslie Koch, GIPEC’s president, told Community Board 1 this week she wants to increase the number of people visiting the island next summer.

That’s the right next step. The island has long tantalized open space lovers but has befuddled New York politicians for a decade because none of the countless ideas has unleashed the necessary enthusiasm and money to make it happen. To this day, nearly all New Yorkers don’t know of the beauty and history that is a mere seven-minute ferry commute from Lower Manhattan.

Koch wants to open the island up to kayakers and bikers next summer and add a trolleybus so those who have trouble walking can see it. In addition, the island should be open on Sundays and for more months next year. Why not let dogs and their owners visit too? The more people who come, the more public pressure to get something done. Koch also talked about long-term plans to allow people to barbecue – normally a forbidden activity in city parks. We see no reason why that can’t be done this spring.

The park design competition should be extended until the state and city identify the funds to build it. Officials have tried too many times before to excite the public with un-funded ideas. No one’s naïve enough to be paying attention anymore. If there is money to build a park, let’s get the competition underway and build something. If not, let’s just get lots of people out there and wait for the day when the will to make it better is there. It’s pretty great now.

They will come, and then it will be built.

Downtown businesses want you

The holiday lights are on at the Winter Garden, the Seaport’s lovable Santa and Christmas tree carolers are back, and all around Lower Manhattan signs of the holiday season are springing up. We know the internet and yikes, even Midtown, provides some attractive holiday shopping options, but we remind our readers that there are many local retailers committed to our neighborhoods who could sure use the business this holiday season. There are also dozens of great Downtown restaurants eager to host small and large parties for friends, co-workers and relatives. We continue to be disturbed by the lack of attention being paid by officials to businesses south of the World Trade Center site in particular, and we ask you to keep this in mind while you look for places to eat and shop all over Downtown.