|The Waterfront Alliance is suggesting more ferries, docks, a marina, a boat maintenance facility, historic ship berths, even public access to a small beach.|
Visions for the future of Governors Island are beginning to come into focus, as various constituencies emphasize their priorities.
Earlier this month, the Waterfront Alliance unveiled its Maritime Activation Plan for the highly regarded island, which focuses on strategies for capitalizing on the unique waterfront assets located along the island’s 2.2-mile perimeter, while offering practical recommendations for meeting the challenges of being situated in the middle of New York Harbor.
Among the plan’s key recommendations is to expand ferry service to meet increasing demand, while launching routes from diverse neighborhoods located farther away than the current embarkation points in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. While new ferry routes require a significant investment, the Alliance also proposes some inexpensive fixes, such as adjusting the schedule of current ferries by as little as five minutes, to give Staten Island residents time to get from the nearby Whitehall ferry terminal to the Battery Maritime Building (where the Governors Island boat is located), without having to wait an additional hour.
The Alliance also proposes that Governors Island welcome recreational boaters with facilities such as a new marina, and expanding kayaking programs — already offered on Governors Island by the Downtown Boathouse.
Among the proposal floated by the Alliance is to create a water “touch point” at the natural beach that temporarily forms with every low tide along the Buttermilk Channel side of Governors Island.
The same report also touts the benefits of a resource that is chronically scarce in New York Harbor: water “touch points,” which allow visitors to come into physical contact with the local estuary. In this context, the Alliance notes that “a natural beach opens at low tide on Buttermilk Channel,” the side of Governors Island that faces Brooklyn. “This could be provided with minimal step-down infrastructure and an educator/attendant on station whenever the gate is open, for additional safety,” the report observes.
Less conspicuous, but still significant, would be, “new infrastructure for freight access,” the Alliance observes, noting that, “nearly all freight and trash is moved from the Island by trucks on the Lower Manhattan crossing, which share ferries with the public.” Establishing a dedicated ferry dock for freight would alleviate crowding on ferries and increase visitor capacity.
In a separate, but related development, the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Clare Newman, who has most recently served as an executive at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, would take over as chief of the Trust for Governors Island in June, when outgoing president Michael Samuelian steps down.
In a story first reported by Crain’s, Ms. Newman will report to Alicia Glen, who recently departed from City Hall, where she served as deputy mayor. Ms. Glen, who has been appointed chair of the Trust, will take over from Carl Weisbrod.
Both Ms. Newman’s and Ms. Glen’s priorities are widely believed to focus on economic development on Governors Island (within two tracts set aside for this purpose, which total more than 33 acres), as a means of making the park financially sustainable.