Statement of Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) at Governors Island Press Conference

May 3, 2001 Issues: New York and Our Neighborhoods

Today, we are here to announce the introduction of the “Governors Island Preservation Act of 2001.”  This legislation is sponsored by me, along with Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Ben Gilman.

Before I talk about the bill, some background on the island.

Governors Island, located in my district, is one of New York City's natural treasures.  Originally, it was owned by New York, but was given to the Federal government for use as a military facility.  Since being vacated by the United States Coast Guard over four years ago, and deemed surplus property by the General Services Administration, it has sat idle.  It is an opportunity lost.  You may remember a few years ago, former Senator Moynihan and President Clinton made a handshake agreement while flying over the island – if New York could come up with a reasonable plan for use of Governors Island, the United States would give it back to New York’s control.

Well, last year, a commission I sat on developed such a plan.  The plan was endorsed by Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki, Senators Moynihan and Schumer, the rest of the New York delegation, and many local elected officials and civic groups.  With the plan in place, working with Reps. Maloney and Gilman, I made a push last year to get control of the island given back to New York.  Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership of the Congress thought there were more important things to do and ignored the pleas of the entire New York delegation and the Governor.  However, a deal is a deal, and I will not give up on our efforts, which is why I am announcing this bill today.

The Governors Island Preservation Act of 2001 would transfer the Island to the State of New York at no cost.  The legislation calls for development of the Island to be consistent with the plan created by the Governors Island Task Force, which I served on.  Part of that plan includes creation of a conference center, museum and cultural facilities, and at least 50 acres of open space.   Additionally, it calls for preservation of Fort Jay and Castle Williams, a move realized early this year when former-President Clinton designated the sites as national monuments at the urging of Representatives such as myself.

I would like to thank the many elected officials and representatives from the various groups who are here with me today, as well as Rep. Maloney for joining me in this effort.

In the coming months, we in Congress are going to press ahead to keep the promise made to Senator Moynihan a few years ago.  Part of that promise was realized by President Clinton when he listened to our calls to make Fort Jay and Castle Williams national monuments.  Now, with the help of Republicans like the Mayor, the Governor, and various Members of Congress, we’ll push the Republican leadership and President Bush to make sure that Governors Island is no longer an opportunity lost, but a promise kept.

Thank you.