By Melinda Holm
A delightful eight minute ferry ride from Battery Park is Governors Island, a car free nirvana, an oasis in the heart of New York Harbor preserved by the US Army and then the coast guard until the 1990’s when President Clinton gave the island to New York for $1. There is something about a peaceful natural environment that creates pure relaxation and contentment. Going down the eastern side, it’s a marvel how close Brooklyn is. At the tip of the Island, New Yorkers spread out under the trees enjoying their picnics. Climbing the hills on the southern end of the island, the happy cries of children running free, the satisfied hum of people, the bird song, the amazing smell, the perfume in the air of our local New York natural habitat brings to mind a story Pete Seeger told about the Dutch saying that miles before they ever saw land when they first came 500 years ago, they could smell it from the perfume in the air.
The hills are 70 feet high with stunning views of the Statue of Liberty with New Jersey as a backdrop, Ellis Island right next to it, Downtown Manhattan, the bridges going to Brooklyn, the Verrazano bridge going to Staten Island. It’s a sight to behold in the heart of the New York City harbor.
Regrettably, Margaret Chin, City Council district 1, successfully changed the zoning of the southern part of Governors Island to allow for commercial development: high rise buildings with heights up to 225 feet and no limit yet to how many million square feet will be built. It is an unfortunate City Council protocol that all will usually support plans put forth by individual city council members for projects in their own district. In May, a majority of the New York City Council voted to support the rezoning. On July 22, the Governors Island Trust, (appointed by Mayor de Blasio) invited developers on a “Center for Climate Solutions Request for Expressions of Interest” tour.
The stand-alone building on the left side is a rendition of the proposed climate solution center. The image is from the Metro Area Governors Island Coalition, or M.A.G.I.C., a group dedicated and working to protect the island. There is a lot of information on their website.
WestView readers, please speak up, we need to protect the island for us, the people of New York.