News that Mayor Bloomberg and the city will take over redevelopment at Governor’s Island is good news. Albany, the capital of dysfunction, has frittered away an opportunity to turn the island into a potential jewel. Now the former Coast Guard base, with its historic buildings, wonderful views and potential for recreational and commercial uses, will be in capable hands.
Mayor Bloomberg, then, and not the governor, will take charge of plans to turn the 172-acre site into a destination for tourists and city residents alike. The city’s deal with the state calls for building an 87-acre park on the island, restoration of some of the island’s wonderful architecture, construction of a new high school and development of commercial sites. The mayor’s record suggests that this will get done, and will get done well, without breaking the city’s budget.
Hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists already are using Governor’s Island as a day-trip destination that’s removed from the bustle of downtown Manhattan and yet only a few minutes away from the Battery via ferry. If the island in its present condition—with some buildings in severe disrepair and other assets in need of overhaul—can attract that many people, imagine the possibilities when (not if) the mayor’s plan comes to fruition.
The federal government turned over the island to New York more than a decade ago, when President Bill Clinton struck a deal with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Thanks to the late senator’s prodding, the feds, who operated the Coast Guard base, “sold” the island to New York for a dollar, one of the great real estate bargains in history.
But precious little has happened since the transaction. Mr. Bloomberg’s intervention figures to make things happen in a big way. And New York will be better for it.