Governors Island – M.A.G.I.C. Nov 2023 Update – Council Member Marte signs on!
Amid so much going on … here’s a November 2023 update from Metro Area Governors Island Coalition (M.A.G.I.C.)
In this update:
1) TNT Legal Fund needs you!
2) Legal Update – awesome briefs filed. Council Member Marte signs on!
3) Harbor School pool moves forward – the plans?
4) Stop the Chop NY/NJ petition
Please Help spread the word regarding the issues and our efforts. More info and social media links at https://govislandcoalition.org
1) The “Trees Not Towers Governors Island Legal Fund“ Fall 2023 drive is on. Please spread the word and contribute if you can HERE
2) Legal update:
Manhattan District 1 City Council Member Christopher Marte has been joined by numerous others in filing a terrific amicus brief written by attorney Chuck Weinstock supporting the beautifully written appeal recently filed by attorney John Low-Beer in our ongoing lawsuit to overturn the 2021 Governors Island rezoning. Find excerpts and full documents HERE
The aim of the lawsuit is to nullify a rezoning that would undermine the purpose and protections agreed upon and outlined in the 2003 Deed by which the federal government transferred Governors Island to the City and the State. The Deed recognized and sought to preserve the uniqueness of Governors Island as a “world apart,” a place where one can “leave the city without leaving,” a place of “views, wind, tides, currents, horizon, escape,” an Island of “vast water, big sky.” Governors Island is still a uniquely open and natural public resource that currently serves millions of New Yorkers as a safe, pastoral experience for the city’s children and their families and provides space for environmental, educational, arts, and historic projects.
The City’s upzoning instead sees Governors Island as ““the site of a sweeping economic development project,” a source of “8,000 direct new jobs and $1 billion in economic impact for New York City.” Laudable though these goals may be, they are inimical to the vision of the Deed, which we share, of preserving Governors Island as a special place for present and future generations of New Yorkers, adjacent to parts of the City sorely lacking in parkland and open space.
Our lawsuit argues that it was arbitrary and capricious of the City to approve zoning that violates both the letter and the spirit of the 2003 Deed – contrary to the vision of Governors Island – as the 2021 GI rezoning. The primary goal of the Deed is: “protection and preservation of the natural, cultural and historic qualities of Governors Island.” It requires the City to dedicate 40 acres in the southern portion of Governors Island as parkland in perpetuity, which the City has not done. Instead, the City:
– zoned the entire southern portion of the Island below Division Road, including the area that is supposed to be parkland, to allow commercial and industrial uses;
– allowed up to 20 percent of the supposed parkland to be built on;
– allowed buildings up to 265 feet high, equivalent to 25 stories (three times the height of GI’s Outlook Hill);
– allowed parking for 200 vehicles on a supposedly traffic-free island.
The City has never produced a shred of evidence to show that the goals of making Governors Island financially self-sufficient and establishing a Climate Solutions Center require as much density, height, and industrial and commercial use as provided by the 2021 rezoning.
From the amicus brief:
– The upzoning is the latest example of a disturbing trend in public land use in the City over the past decade where the government has worked in tandem with private developers and public-private entities to push the envelope of permissible uses of City land.
– The excessive scale of the unpopular 2021 rezoning has not been shown as necessary to facilitate stated goals for the island.
– In particular the 2021 rezoning violates the Deed by not legally dedicating in perpetuity the required acreage of parkland
– and in fact attempting to allow building on 20% of that area.
3) The pool: In March 2021 the M.A.G.I.C. Alternative South Island Visualization proposed a long needed pool facility for the Harbor School. In August 2022 the city announced such a facility in the very location that M.A.G.I.C. suggested. Word is that the project is now going forward. We’ve so far been unable to attain any details.
Roger Manning and Allie Ryan
Metro Area Governors Island Coalition (M.A.G.I.C.)
governorsislandcoalition AT gmail.com