The mobile park planning workshops this weekend were a big hit. They were a great opportunity for people to meet members of the design team and tell them their ideas for activities in the new park and great promenade. Six public workshops drew participants from a range of backgrounds – from people who have been thinking about Governors Island for years, to artists who have recently started mounting work out here, to curious folks for whom this weekend was a first visit.
We started with a tram tour of the Island, with an emphasis on the sites of the future 40-acre park and waterfront Great Promenade. We brought people to the southern part of the Island that is not yet open to the public. There they saw the decrepit barracks and warehouses left by the military, piles of demolition materials that contractors are sorting and recycling for reuse in the new park, majestic allees of London Plane trees, and – most surprising – sweeping harbor vistas and the best view of the Statue of Liberty anywhere. Since most people don’t have a sense of what an “acre” actually looks or feels like, the design team staked out a one-acre area in the future park site with orange construction flags to help people understand the scale of the project.
After the tours, the participants split into smaller groups and were asked to talk about their first impressions of the South Island site of the new park. People were astonished by the expansive panoramic views and big sky. They noted the wind and the sensations of being near water and the harbor.
We then worked together to imagine a wonderful day in the new parks on Governors Island. We talked about the variety of possible activities, what might you do on GI that you can’t do elsewhere in NYC, what’s the most delightful thing you can imagine doing with your family, your friends, your date? What does the special setting of GI suggest to you about activities here? We wove the ideas into storyboards. Then we asked – What would bring you back again for another memorable day- what would you be doing? what would you tell your friends to check out?
We call this exercise “1000 Days on Governors Island” and heard wonderful stories – about family reunions, first dates, kids running free, and days packed with music, movement, good food, and good friends. Stay tuned – in the coming weeks we will share some of these on the blog.