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January 31, 2003
PR- 031-03


Mayor and Governor Join President in Oval Office to Announce 172-Acre Island
will be Used as Educational, Recreational and Cultural Center

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today joined President George W. Bush in the Oval Office to announce the return of Governors Island to New York, for use as an educational, recreational and cultural center that will offer a broad range of public uses on the 172-acre island in New York harbor.

“I am pleased to announce the return of Governors Island to the people of New York,” said President Bush.  “Last April, I informed the Governor and the Mayor of my intention to make this transfer, and today, the transfer is complete.  Also, I am reaffirming our support for the Governors Island National Monument, which now will encompass approximately 22 of the Island’s 172 acres, including historic Castle Williams and Fort Jay.

“Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg have shared with me their vision of a Governors Island dedicated to public and civic purposes.   New York’s stewardship of the island combined with the National Park Service’s management of the Monument will lead to the development of an outstanding resource for the people of New York and all who visit.

“I commend the parties that worked together to make this historic transfer a reality, including the National Park Service, the General Services Administration, the United States Coast Guard, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and especially the State and City of New York.”

“While it sits just one-half mile south of Lower Manhattan, for 200 years few New Yorkers have been able to set foot on Governors Island,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Soon New Yorkers will have access to this New York harbor treasure, which will include no less than 40 acres of public parkland with spectacular views of the City, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York Harbor.

“More importantly, President Bush has changed not only the future of the Island but also the future of our City's youth. Our plan will include turning Governors Island into a thriving campus, a place where our City's youth can study the sciences or the arts, in an environment usually out of reach to them. We are extremely grateful to President Bush for this remarkable investment in our City’s future. We won't let you down.”

“All New Yorkers are grateful that, once again, President Bush has demonstrated his tremendous concern for the well-being of New York, this time by returning Governors Island, the ‘Crown Jewel’ of New York harbor, to the citizens of our great State and City,” said Governor Pataki.  “Working together with state, city and federal agencies, today’s historic agreement will become the foundation for a host of educational and cultural pursuits, while simultaneously giving New Yorkers access to a new public park and waterfront esplanade.

“With our City University, one of the finest urban university systems in the nation, we will train the next generation of teachers for the 21st Century.  This will be the nation’s premier urban teacher training center, utilizing the historic structures to create an honors level teacher education program at the City University that will focus on creating the best literacy, math and science educators to help all our children meet high standards and to close the performance gap. The collaborative effort by the State, the City, and the City University will also call on the private sector to help create this culture of teaching, learning, leadership and educational excellence.”

Under terms of the sale, responsibility for managing the island will be handled by a newly created entity, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), a corporation formed jointly by the State and City of New York.  GIPEC will hold title to approximately 150 acres of upland property and 32 acres of underwater land.  The National Parks Service will gain title to and administer 22 acres of land, which will include Fort Jay and Castle Williams, and will be designated by Presidential proclamation as the Governors Island National Monument.

GIPEC, which will guide the redevelopment and preservation process, as well as manage its portion of the island, will consist of 12 Board Members.  The initial Chairman of the Board will be Randy A. Daniels, New York Secretary of State, and the initial Vice Chair will be Daniel L. Doctoroff, NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding.  The Chair and Vice Chair positions will be held for two-year terms.  The Governor and Mayor will each appoint six directors. The Mayor will appoint the initial President of GIPEC, and the Governor and Mayor will make subsequent appointments jointly. An advisory committee representing civic organizations and others will also be established to advise the GIPEC board and its staff.

To finance required maintenance of the island as well as the planning process, the State and City have each committed $5 million per year over the next three years.   The planning may take up to three years, and will be an open and collaborative process.  Under the agreement, a minimum of 40 acres must remain as parkland, and be made publicly accessible in perpetuity, and an additional 50 acres must be dedicated to public benefit, including educational, civic, cultural uses, the National Monument itself, and an esplanade that will circle the perimeter of the island. 

In order to ensure that the island is economically sustainable, the remaining parts of the island will permit a mix of public benefit uses compatible with its historic and civic character to be determined through the public planning process.  These may include entertainment, cultural and arts facilities, hospitality uses such as hotels, conference and banquet centers. Retail, service, dining and health facilities are also permitted.

In keeping with the public benefit objective, redevelopment must ensure meaningful access to the public, as well as appropriate transportation.  Beginning in the summer of 2003, the island will be opened up on a limited basis to sponsored tours and special events.  It is anticipated that the Island will be open for greater public visitation during the summer of 2004. Ultimately, there will also be regular ferry service for public access to the island.

The State and City have established a set of principles to guide the public planning process. These principles include:

Governors Island Background Facts

Contact: Edward Skyler/Jennifer Falk 
(212) 788-2958
  Michael Sherman  ( EDC )
(212) 312-3523
  Mollie Fullington (Governor Pataki) 
(212) 681-4640