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  April 8, 2002

Governors Island Offers New Opportunities for Education
By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

On April 1st, President George W. Bush invited New York State Governor George Pataki and me to the White House, where he announced the historic return of Governors Island to New York City. Until 1997, Governors Island, which is located in Upper New York Bay just a half-mile off the Battery, had been the site of a U.S. Coast Guard station for more than 30 years.

Returning Governors Island to New York gives us remarkable new opportunities to develop a world-class college campus on the island, while simultaneously filling the desperate need for classroom space for public high school students in our city. Governor Pataki and I agree that the best use of Governors Island is as the site of a "flagship" campus for the City University of New York. That in turn will free up space on existing City University campuses for high school classrooms.

The potential for a campus on Governors Island is truly limitless. I strongly believe that a beautiful and inspiring physical environment for a school has a direct impact on the quality of teaching and learning in that school. With its spectacular views of New York harbor, the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, Governors Island's world-class setting can only provide a world-class education. And many of the existing facilities on Governors Island could be readily adapted for use by this new City University campus, which will hold down the cost of developing the new Governors Island school.

Our City's younger students also will benefit from putting a City University campus on Governors Island. Classroom space is at a premium in New York City, and the City simply doesn't have enough money to build all the new schools that we need. The facility that the Governor and I envision putting on Governors Island will have space for as many as 10,000 City University students. Moving CUNY students there will free up classrooms at existing City University campuses that will be the equivalent of at least a dozen City public high schools.

Recreation-minded New Yorkers also will benefit from the transfer of Governors Island to New York. While it controlled Governors Island, the Coast Guard developed an outstanding array of outdoor athletic facilities there. Our plans for Governors Island call for making these tennis and basketball courts, soccer fields and ballfields, the 9-hole golf course, and miles of coastal paths and outdoor space accessible by ferry from Manhattan to all New Yorkers.

Governors Island has a rich and storied past. It was the home of the British colonial governors of New York. After independence, it was, for more than 200 years, the home of the oldest continuously operated military post in the United States. Today, Governors Island has a bright future ahead of it as a major center of higher education.