Reps. Nadler and Maloney Celebrate Governors Island Return With New Legislation to Protect its Most Historic Sites

May 13, 2002 Issues: New York and Our Neighborhoods

NEW YORK - Celebrating the imminent return of one of New York City’s crown jewels - Governors Island -  Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) announced introduction of legislation today to permanently protect two important landmarks on the island.  The Governors Island National Monument Ratification Act will ensure that Castle Williams and Fort Jay, both designated National Monuments are protected and opened to the public.

“For many years now, I have been laboring to have the island returned to its rightful owner, New York,” said Rep. Nadler at a City Hall press conference.  “Now, the return of one of New York's true gems is close to being a reality.  Our legislation will ensure that no matter what the ultimate use of the island, its two most historic sites are forever protected and maintained for the public to enjoy."

"Letting these historic forts lose their National Monument status would be a terrible shame and a great loss to New York," said Rep. Maloney. "Our bill is a way to ensure that New York and the nation can enjoy the history of Governors Island for years to come.  The last thing New York needs is the loss of our newest national monuments or their fall into disrepair, so we're very hopeful that the President will support this bill as it moves through Congress.  It's the right way to ensure the legacy of the National Monuments as the transfer of the island moves forward."

Governors Island was given over to Federal control by New York and served as a military base for over 200 years until it was vacated by the Coast Guard in 1996.   It has served as the gatekeeper to the Port of New York in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, and World Wars I and II.  Governors Island has hosted historical events such as the U.S. - U.S.S.R. summit between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and, as legend goes, it is the place where Walt Disney was briefly jailed for mistakenly being considered AWOL during World War I.

After intense lobbying by Reps. Nadler and Maloney, President Clinton designated two of the most historic parts of the Island, Fort Jay and Castle Williams, as national monuments before the end of his administration.  Just last month, President Bush agreed to sell the island back to New York for a nominal fee.  The Governors Island National Monument Ratification Act would codify, into law, the monument designations made by President Clinton so that no development could occur on the two sites when Federal control of the island is relinquished.

Reps. Nadler and Maloney were joined by local elected officials and the Governors Island Alliance - a civic organization - at today’s press conference.