Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver, And Senator Squadron Announce Agreement On Development, Funding And Governance Of Governors Island

April 11, 2010

City Will Have Primary Responsibility to Develop and Operate the Island

City and State Release Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan for 87 Acres of Open Green Space

Renderings of the Park and Public Space Master Plan can be accessed at

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David A. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senator Daniel L. Squadron today announced an agreement on the long-term development, funding and governance of Governors Island in which New York City will have primary responsibility to develop and operate the island.  The newly-created Governors Island Operating Entity will be responsible for the planning, operation and maintenance of 150 acres of Governors Island. The board of the new entity will be comprised of 13 members, one representative each designated by the Governor, the 64th District State Assembly member, the 25th District State Senator and Manhattan Community Board 1; as well as nine representatives designated by the Mayor, at least one of whom shall reside in Brooklyn.

As a part of today's announcement, the City and the State together released the Governors Island Park and Public Space Master Plan, a comprehensive design for 87 acres of open green space, rejuvenating existing landscapes in the National Historic District, transforming the southern half of the island and creating a 2.2 mile Great Promenade along the waterfront. The park and public space plan was designed by a team led by the landscape architecture firm West 8. Governors Island reopens for public use on June 5. Today's announcement begins the approval process that will lead to the release, upon transfer of the island, of $41.5 million in previously existing commitments from New York City's capital budget. Moving forward with the Park and Public Space Master Plan, schematic design and environmental review will begin later this year and continue through 2011. Following that, community review will commence in 2012, and pending review, the first phase of construction will begin in late 2012.

"The popularity of Governors Island as a recreational destination in our city has skyrocketed," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Today's agreement establishes new and clear lines of authority over Governors Island that will allow us to further improve the island and launch a process for turning the island master plan into a reality. A lot of people deserve credit for making this agreement a reality, but I particularly want to thank Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and State Senator Squadron."

"For the past seven years, New York State has championed the preservation and development of one of the State's historical treasures, Governors Island," said Governor Paterson.  "Just last year, the island welcomed a record 275,000 visitors over a 60 day public access season, offering a diverse array of free cultural and recreational programs and activities to visitors from neighborhoods across New York City. Transferring the operation and governance of the island to a City-controlled entity at this time signifies that the State has secured the capital investment needed, and ensured the vision for the future of Governors Island. I'd like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Assemblyman Silver, and State Senator Dan Squadron for their roles in reaching this agreement."

"This agreement will ensure that residents of Lower Manhattan and all New Yorkers will continue to have the chance to enjoy all that Governors Island has to offer and that the community will have a voice in administration and planning," said Assembly Speaker Silver. "It also provides a reliable source of funding so that the residents of Lower Manhattan will not have to worry each and every year whether island facilities will be available for their children and their families. I commend the Governor, the Mayor and all of the other state and local officials who have helped ensure the future of this important and much-needed recreational space."

"I am pleased that we have reached an agreement that will ensure a bright future for Governors Island, keeping it open for thousands of visitors who come each year," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "Just as with our recent agreement on Brooklyn Bridge Park, the transfer of Governors Island to the City will create a dependable funding stream, protect the parkland, and give the community a stronger voice.  Today marks another significant step toward building a unified Harbor Park - a central park for the center of the city - linking Governors Island to the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts. I look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver, and community leaders to turn Governors Island's potential into reality."

"Governors Island is a true wonder in the middle of New York Harbor," said Senator Gillibrand. "Visitors who have already enjoyed the unparalleled views and terrific arts programming know Governors Island is one of New York City's unsung treasures. This announcement will allow the full potential of this magnificent oasis to be harnessed and I will continue to fight for federal dollars to ensure its continued development and success for the enjoyment of future generations to come."

"Governors Island, to this point, has been unfortunately an opportunity lost for New York," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler. "But today, by consolidating control under the City Administration I believe we are taking a major step forward in transforming Governors Island from a sleepy little island into a place where New Yorkers can go to experience and enjoy our history, see spectacular views of Manhattan and Brooklyn, enjoy recreational activities, or literally, just have a walk in the park.  I am proud of the work that I have done over the last 15 years, from acquiring the island for New York, to the creation of the National Monument, to rehabilitating Fort Jay and Castle William, to assisting in the establishment of the Harbor School.  However, I know we all must work even harder to turn our hopes for the island into a reality, and I pledge today to work with the City to continue our dreams to develop this diamond in the rough."

"Governors Island is in many ways the last frontier of our city, and the plans being announced today will make sure that it continues to be a destination for New Yorkers for years to come," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. "With 87 acres of available green space, Governors Island represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the City to invest in new amenities that will drastically improve both this open space and the quality of life for all city residents."

"This announcement means that the record number of visitors who last year enjoyed the arts, recreation, and natural beauty of Governors Island will have the opportunity to plan future visits to our jewel of New York Harbor this summer and beyond," said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "The agreement on development, funding, and governance of Governors Island moves us closer towards fully harnessing the great many natural resources offered by the island.  I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver, Senator Squadron and community leaders who worked together on this agreement."

"Governors Island is a great resource for lower Manhattan and for New York. A great many residents from the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and the Financial District have enjoyed the open green spaces, Free Bike Fridays and other free activities on Governors Island," said New York City Council Member Margaret Chin. "I am pleased that today's announcement continues the island's momentum and plans for the future. New York City will now be able to take the reins in ensuring that this wonderful space is available and beautiful for our children and families."

"Governors Island is an impressive part of our City's waterfront that a small group of New Yorkers have discovered," said Council Member Michael Nelson. "Today's agreement allows the City to move forward with planning the island's future so a larger group of New Yorkers can experience the beautiful views and ample open space the island provides."

"Governors Island is a New York treasure, and today's agreement secures its future," said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber. "With a new governance structure and the future release of capital funds, we will be able to work with the community to plan the future of the island and make it one of the re-invigorated public spaces along New York Harbor."

"This agreement for Governors Island represents a successful collaboration between the City and State, and ultimately, a very bright future for the island," said Empire State Development Chairman & CEO designate Dennis M. Mullen. "With the City and local communities taking on a greater role in management and oversight, Governors Island will be developed into a valued amenity for the people of New York State, and visitors from around the world who will enjoy all the island has to offer.  With Governor Paterson's leadership, we were able to reach an agreement that benefits both the City and State, and is as strong step forward for Governors Island."

"We are determined to keep streamlining operations and making government more effective," said Empire State Development Executive Director Peter Davidson. "This deal makes great sense, transferring all ground operations and future financial responsibility for building crucial infrastructure and the South End Park to the City of New York. We'll work hand-in-hand, to benefit all the users of the island."

"Governors Island will open on June 5 with more free activities, programs, and exhibits than ever before," said Leslie Koch, president of GIPEC. "We look forward to welcoming the public to bike, play sports, and enjoy cultural programs in a unique setting in the middle of New York Harbor."

The $41.5 million in previously existing commitments from New York City will support continued investment in island infrastructure, and the design, environmental and land use review, and construction of the first phase of the park and public spaces. The first phase of construction focuses on the Historic District, respectfully restoring 33 acres of green space and adding much-needed visitor amenities.

The Park and Public Space Master Plan

The Park and Public Space Master Plan will transform Governors Island into a destination, take advantage of its unparalleled setting in the Harbor, and provide a varied set of experiences. In the Historic District, green spaces will be restored and amenities will be added. The West 8 Team's design creates new play areas and transforms acres of asphalt parking lots into green spaces for recreation, car-free biking, cultural programming and relaxation. On the island's southern end, the design reshapes the desolate, flat landscape into one with new hills and habitats for exploring, playing and enjoying views. And finally, the West 8 team has designed the Great Promenade, where strollers and bicyclists can experience 360 degree views of New York Harbor along the water's edge. Renderings of the Park and Public Space Master Plan can be accessed at All images should be credited as West 8 / Rogers Marvel Architects / Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Mathews Nielsen / Urban Design +.

The West 8 team, that created the plan, was selected after an international design competition. West 8 leads a team that includes Rogers Marvel Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, and Urban Design +. 

The public provided thousands of comments that were provided to the team as they developed the plan. When the island opens for the season on June 5, the Park and Public Space Master Plan will be featured in an interactive exhibition on the island and in the Battery Maritime Building's waiting room in Lower Manhattan. The public will be invited to give their feedback in a variety of ways and this input will guide the plan as it enters its next stages.

Governors Island

Since the transfer of Governors Island from the federal government, New York State and New York City have worked together to increase public access to the island, invest in island infrastructure and stabilization of historic structures, execute a multi-phase, mixed use development strategy and create a world-class park and public space. In addition to the 150 acres controlled by the newly created Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation Operating Entity, 22 acres of space, which comprise the Governors Island National Monument, will continue to be managed by the National Park Service.

Last year, Governors Island welcomed a record 275,000 visitors over a 60 day public access season, compared to only 8,000 visitors in 2005. It also offered a diverse array of free cultural and recreational programs and activities to visitors from neighborhoods across New York City.  Since 2003, the City and the State have invested more than $150 million to improve the island's infrastructure and to stabilize historic structures throughout the Historic District to ready them for first tenancies.

In 2010, Governors Island will welcome two new tenants - the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council has already opened artist studios on the island and more than two dozen artists are currently at work in studios that will be open for public visits in the summer. The Harbor School, a New York City public high school, will open in September with 400 students in attendance.

Governors Island will be open every Friday - Sunday from June 5 - October 10 for a wide variety of free activities, performances and programs for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Ferries will run to Governors Island from both Manhattan and Brooklyn. All ferry rides will be free. A detailed schedule of planned events and programs will be available at in the next several weeks.

Governors Island is one of the nine waterfront destinations that comprise NYHarborWay. The nine destinations are Hudson River Park, The Battery, Ellis Island, Statue Liberty Island, Atlantic Basin, East River Esplanade, Governors Island, and Brooklyn Bridge Park. All of the sites are accessible by ferry, and except for the islands, will be linked by the bike greenways.  NYHarborWay is working to enhance the identity of each of the nine sites, improve the physical connections between them and ensure the cohesiveness of their programming, helping New York Harbor to become a major recreational destination for New Yorkers and visitors.

Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (Mayor)

(212) 788-2958
Morgan Hook (Governor)

(212) 681-4640
Elizabeth Rapuano (GIPEC)

(212) 440-2205