One Click Letter to NY City Council

5/27/21: Thanks to everyone who sent this one-click letter.  It has now been deactivated. More info soon.

Dear City Councilmembers,

I urge you to reject the current Trust For Governors Island (TGI) rezoning proposal: it effectively privatizes 33 public acres and is just too big and too extreme. It is unnecessary and does more harm than good. Better alternatives exist that could generate revenue while doing less harm to the National Historic District and to the function of the island as a calm respite from the city. (See:

  1.  This upzoning won’t pay for the Island’s needs – at least not until 2050 according to TGI’s own speculative projections. Meanwhile it’ll cost taxpayers billions. Community Board 1 says the Trust’s financial analysis is insufficient. A City Planning commissioner said approval would be akin to the city giving the Trust a blank check for an unspecified project. Financially we’re looking at a Hudson Yards 2.0.
  2.  Any discussion regarding a climate research center here is irrelevant. This is a proposal to upzone the south island, period. There’s nothing legally requiring a climate center tenant and the proposed blanket C4-1 zoning potentially subjects all areas in the south island to eventual development. In fact Governors Island is already productive as a climate hub, thanks to the work of Earth Matter, GrowNYC, Billion Oyster Project, the Harbor School, NYC Audubon, Waterfront Alliance, and others.
  3.  Any future South Island development should preserve GI’s one-of-a-kind open feel of grand vistas and sky. The “increased open space” that TGI is presenting is “woven open space similar to Battery Park City.” It’s boxed in by 10 – 30 story buildings and non-public areas.
  4.  We support more public amenities such as for the arts, athletic activities, playgrounds, waterfront access, education, urban farming, environmental projects, “wild” less-formal spaces.
  5.  Many solid historic buildings lie unused on the island. Any new building should be kept to minimum and not exceed the four-story height of buildings in the historic district.
  6.  The current rezoning application was sprung on the public just late last September and is being pushed through process during a pandemic in an election year. Public hearings on land use being held virtually due to COVID-19 are insufficient and should be suspended as has been the case in several instances this year in the city.
  7.  Let’s not make this the Penn Station of our times where a precious public jewel is greedily devoured and lost. Let this not be the legacy of this City Council.

The priority for GI needs to be preserving our shared country place in the city for future generations. There is a serious need of New Yorkers at this moment for solace and the last thing that many can afford right now is a vacation. 100% of New York City zip codes use Governor’s Island which offers what other major NYC public spaces can’t – a retreat, an adventure, a change of scenery, and escape from the glass and steel towers. This fight is about the need for tranquility, for solace, and sanctuary, and for the preservation of natural habitat and beauty.

I agree with the following, excerpted from the Manhattan Community Board 1 12/22/20 Resolution.

  • The city’s current proposed rezoning in its current form needs to be rejected in order to:
    “ensure the protection and preservation of the natural, cultural and historic qualities of Governors Island, guarantee public access to this magnificent island, promote the quality of public education, and enhance the ability of the public to enjoy Governors Island and the surrounding waterways, thereby increasing the quality of life in the surrounding community, the City, the State and the United States.”
  • Currently, Governors Island has a village-type, modest urban density. In terms of mass and height, the proposed development is substantially larger than the existing development on the Island. A majority of public comments indicate that it is the existing density and scale that gives Governors Island its identity as an island refuge in its highly urbanized context within the city
  • [The current TGI proposal] is nearly three times larger than what was considered as part of the 2013 FSGEIS […]the public’s understanding for the development program was based on those earlier models and the drastic increase in scale of development is unacceptable
  •  The Trust must prioritize phasing development to allow for leasing the existing millions of square feet already existing on the Island prior to the construction of new buildings
  • CB1 asks that the Trust identify and consider what the State and Federal government each provide currently to the Island and how this might be increased under the new administration to provide additional support to the Island
  •  The Trust asserts that the proposed level of development is required in order to make the Island financially self-sustaining. However, there is no mandate in the Deed that notes the Trust must become financially self-sustaining
  • Financial and other modeling done in connection with this proposed project were conducted using assumptions on pre-pandemic conditions. […]the community does not have confidence that this proposal will develop as expected. Many have expressed fear over an undesirable result, such as more privatization on Island
  • In July 1997, […] CB1 wished that Governors Island be kept as a park land with active, open recreational space. Further, that “one thing that Community Board 1 does not want to see happen is for Governors Island to be converted into some kind of private or semi private area that would prohibit residents and workers and tourists from coming onto the Island. That would include residential communities or campuses.”

More info:

Metro Area Governors Island Coalition (M.A.G.I.C.)