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On Saturday, we hopped the free ferry to Governors Island and checked out Figment, an all-volunteer, non-commercial art event that took place over the weekend. For those who haven’t been to the island yet, it’s one of the nicest green spaces in New York City, with great views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. It’s also full of historic buildings, including a fort and early 19th-century houses. Legally part of Manhattan, the island sits just across the Buttermilk Channel from Brooklyn, and the ferry ride takes only a few minutes.
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The Trust for Governors Island yesterday put out a call for proposals for what will be one of the biggest adaptive reuse projects in the country, the redevelopment of 19th and early 20th century historic buildings on Governors Island. The parklike 92-acre historic district on the island, just off the waterfront of Brooklyn in the East River, has views of Manhattan and Brooklyn and has in recent years become a popular summertime destination with outdoor arts projects, after the military turned it over to the City. Historic buildings include a 400,000-square-foot barracks and administrative building designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1929, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ideas for single or multiple buildings could be commercial, educational, cultural or mixed use; residential development and casinos are not allowed. A pre-bid conference and site visit take place Dec. 19. Proposals are due March 14. Above, a rendering of plans already in the works for remaking the arrival area, Soissons Landing. (more…)

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Big news! The second phase of the Brooklyn Bridge Park roll-out happens tomorrow, with opening ceremonies at Pier 6 scheduled for the morning. The 1.6-acre playground features “Swing Valley” (pictured above) and “Slide Mountain” along with three volleyball courts and a 6,000-square-foot sandbox, Brooklyn’s largest. In other exciting news, tomorrow will mark the beginning of seasonal weekend Water Taxi service to Governors Island. You can see the ferry schedule here.
Pier 6 to Open Saturday with Ferry Service [NY Post]
Park Heights Playground opening at Pier 6 [NY Daily News]

governors-island-ferry-0410.jpgGovernors Island is one of the greatest spots in the city for a day trip, but it’s currently a pain in the butt for Brooklynites to get to. Despite being closer to Brooklyn’s shores, Governors Island lacks ferry service to the County of Kings. There’s been talk over the past four years, but the first sign of any positive momentum in a while came on Friday when the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corp. approved $3.2 million in its capital spending plan to create a feasibility study and preliminary designs for a ferry landing in Red Hook that would host direct ferry service to the island. The federal government would have to pay for the construction, but a NY Post article says that it’s more likely to happen now that the city has taken control of the island from the cash-strapped and gridlocked state. And in the meantime, there’s supposed to be water taxi service to the island from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Update: Leslie Koch, president of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, just wrote in with the following message: Last year, Governors Island ran free ferry service on Saturdays and Sundays from Fulton Ferry Landing. This service accommodated both pedestrians and bicycles. Governors Island will be providing that same service from Brooklyn on Saturday and Sundays when the Island is open from June 5 through October 10. We are working with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation which is planning to open a dock at Pier 6, as we are hoping to move our free service from Fulton Ferry Landing to Pier 6 this summer. The new location cuts the travel time to Governors Island to three minutes, so boats will be able to run continuously between Governors Island and Brooklyn for free. Governors Island has always stated its intention to add a ferry from Red Hook that would provide pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle access. As a Boerum Hill resident, I very much look forward to taking the free Brooklyn service to Governors Island on weekends this summer.
Red Hook Ferry Project for Governors Island Back on Track [NY Post]
Photo by edwhitaker

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It’s official: New York City will take control of Governors Island, the former military campus in New York Harbor. Under the agreement reached with the state, much of the 172-acre site would become a public park; the city also plans to build a high school on the island and there’s a possibility that New York University could build a satellite campus as well. The deal comes less than a month after the city formally took control of Brooklyn Bridge Park from the cash-strapped state; the two had co-managed the island since the Feds handed it over in 2003. What tips the balance here is the state’s fiscal crisis, said Raymond Horton, a Columbia Business School professor. The state is in a dire situation. The city is much better managed at this moment. That makes possible something that was not when the two governments’ finances were in similar condition. Operating the island is expected to cost about $60 million over the next five years.
New York City Takes Over Governors Island [NY Times]