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Governors Island's New Park Space Readies For October Opening

By Irene Plagianos | March 11, 2013 2:35pm | Updated on March 11, 2013 2:58pm

GOVERNORS ISLAND — Governors Island’s highly anticipated overhaul into a year-round destination with expansive new public spaces and redeveloped cultural and commercial buildings is well underway.

Construction is rapidly moving forward on 30 acres of new park space that includes ball fields, a grove of trees strung with hammocks and playful greenery with maze-like hedges, all of which is slated for an Oct. 30 ribbon cutting, Leslie Koch, president of The Trust for Governors Island, told members of Community Board 1 recently.

"We're very excited to see this coming together," Koch said.

The new public spaces won't be ready for public use during the upcoming Governors Island season — which runs every weekend from May 25 to Sept. 29 — but the public will be able to preview the new park on guided tours, according to the trust.

The trust has not yet announced plans for public access to the new park after Oct. 30.

The public space is just one piece of a massive plan for transforming the former Coast Guard base. The city plans to invest more than $260 million by 2014 to revamp the island’s infrastructure.

Proposals for private development — both for the reuse of 40 existing historic buildings on the northern half of the island, and to build on 33 acres of mostly unused land in the south — are due on March 14.

The trust is seeking to “generate the broadest possible spectrum of ideas” for the redesign of the 172-acre island, according to the request for expressions of interest, and has encouraged nonprofit, cultural, educational and commercial developers to apply.

Last week, members of Community Board 1 voted to support Governors Island's Special Zoning District, which will allow for development in the historic northern portion of the island.

The rezoning still needs the approval of the City Council, which is expected in the fall.

The trust anticipates that the historic buildings will be renovated and occupied by 2015.