Governors Island Lighting – M.A.G.I.C. letter to the Trust

Below letter sent to the Trust for Governors Island Oct 21, 2022.
Also see: LPC hearing Tues Oct 11th – Report

TO: The Trust for Governors Island – Nicole De Feo, Christopher Tepper, Sarah Krautheim, Clare Newman
CC: Council Member Christopher Marte, MBP Mark Levine, Brian Orter (Bold), LPC, CB1

Regarding the Trust’s plan for replacing outdoor lighting on Governors Island

The Trust’s Oct 11th, 2022 presentation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission highlighted avoiding over-brightness and wildlife related considerations. We support increased focus on these aspects as well as on the public’s desire for poles and fixtures of appropriate scale and style for Governors Island.

– Darkness is calming and beneficial to both humans and wildlife and should be maintained as much as possible on Governors Island. Particularly for wildlife, mounting lighting fixtures as low as possible and minimizing brightness is key. Also, there could be “dark sky“-ish areas (The Parade ground? Picnic point?) utilizing a path lighting approach similar to that currently on Overlook hill.

– During the LPC hearing discussion of the huge 35 ft poles proposed for the historic district there was much focus on the wood material and the color. But the key issue as The Historic Districts Council points out is that these massive poles and intrusive “moonlighting” are out of scale and character with these areas.

– For at least Nolan Park and Colonels row designs, losing the moonlighting and using updated classic “tulip” (aka “acorn”) or other complimentary styled lighting on smaller poles would be infinitely more desirable and beneficial.

– The Trust has pointed out that the massive 35ft moonlighting poles would only be used in the historic district – but that’s exactly where they are the least appropriate.

– Here again is the statement from The Historic Districts Council:
     “HDC finds the proposed lighting solution to be inappropriate within the Nolan Park and Colonels Row portions of the project. To be specific, we find the telephone poles to be out of scale and character with the Nolan Park and Colonels Row areas and we find the notion of the so-called moon lighting in these areas to be extremely out of character. We therefore ask the commission to require the applicant to find a more modestly scaled solution to path lighting within the two listed areas.”

– Recalling the 2003 Governors Island Historic District Preservation and Design Manual by the U.S General Services  Administration, “Developed to assist in guiding reuse of the Governors Island Historic District portion of the Island, while  ensuring  preservation of the historic and architectural resources that contribute to its importance.”: 

    p.18: “6. All site or building lighting within the Governors island Historic District will be appropriately scaled lighting compatible with the area in which it is installed.”

    p.27: “STREET LIGHTING will require a  level of illumination appropriate to vehicular travel. The fixtures used should be compatible with the character of the historic district and be designed and located to avoid excessive light or glare on residential units. 
OPEN SPACE & PARK LIGHTING should be the minimum necessary to provide a safe pedestrian environment, without causing excessive glare or intrusion into residential units. These. fixtures should match the existing historic units in scale and basic form. Halogen lights should be avoided. 
PROPERTY LIGHTING includes site illumination, such as walkway lights and landscape lighting; building illumination, such as spot lights; and building lighting, such as porch lighting, or security fixtures. These fixtures should be small and unobtrusive, and attached in a manner that does not cause damage to or conceal significant features. Spot lights should not shine outside of the immediate property.”

Roger Manning for 
the Metro Area Governors Island Coalition (M.A.G.I.C.)
governorsislandcoalition AT