Testimony of Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick
Submitted to the New York City City Planning Commission
Regarding the Governors Island ULURP Application
February 3, 2021
The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every level of city life, including the processes through which future large scale developments are approved. The Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) is a critical way for communities to make their voices heard when zoning changes are considered; it is especially essential when we’re considering these changes on public land that is meant to serve the City’s residents. At a time when people in our community are inordinately concerned with meeting their basic needs and when in-person meetings are impossible, the ULURP process simply cannot work as intended. Virtual meetings and hearings are not a stand- in for a robust, in-person public process; expecting that community members can give a proposal to dramatically reshape a beloved public park the attention and scrutiny it deserves at a time when their attention is focused on keeping themselves safe, their kids educated, and their families housed and fed is wholly inappropriate.
I am extremely troubled, then, that the City Planning Commission is considering an application from the Trust for Governors Island (the Trust) and Mayor de Blasio to rezone 45% of the portion of Governors Island known as South Island and permit 4.5 million gross square feet of development, with buildings reaching 300 feet in height. This egregious proposal would rob City residents of light, air, and open space at a time when they are more essential than ever to maintaining public health. The rezoning would dramatically reshape the landscape of what has become a treasured respite for so many New Yorkers, and would pit the commercial needs of large scale tenants with those of park-goers.
The residents of Lower Manhattan have long faced a conundrum – we love our neighborhoods, but are faced with a lack of open space that impedes our health and wellbeing. During my time in the Assembly, I have been happy to support the creation and maintenance of critically needed open recreation spaces, such as the ball fields at Pier 40 and the greater Hudson River Park, and I appreciate the development of Governors Island into the vibrant and thriving space it is today. However, I have also watched, and fought against, the efforts of City administrations and the trusts who steward these parks to chip away at these vital resources by ceding land, air, and sunlight to large-scale private development.