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Governors Island gondola a ‘go’ • Brooklyn Paper

Governors Island gondola a ‘go’

Santiago Calatrava

The “Governors Island Gondola” is a go.

A once seemingly implausible method of transporting visitors from the
proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park to a someday-to-be-reopened Governors Island
by gondola is officially part of the city and state plan for the mothballed
former Coast Guard base.

To demonstrate its support for the Euro-flavored mode of transport, city
and state officials trotted out architect Santiago Calatrava — best
known for his soon-to-be-magnificent PATH train station at Ground Zero
— at a press conference this week to show off his pod-like air train.

Access to the jewel of New York harbor, just a half-mile off the Brooklyn
waterfront, has stymied planners for years. But six months ago, Deputy
Mayor Dan Doctoroff floated a plan for a network of gondolas linking recreation
areas on the Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan waterfronts to the island.

Calatrava said he volunteered to design the model.

At Wednesday’s press conference, reporters were skeptical. When one
asked about the effect of wind on cable cars dangling 200 feet over the
water, Mayor Bloomberg gestured toward Calatrava and said, “That’s
why he’s an architect.”

The mayor’s confidence in Calatrava was immediately slammed by his
onetime mayoral rival, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Bensonhurst).

“I am concerned that the elevated gondola … would be an expensive
and ugly diversion from the common sense travel option: the ferry,”
he said.

Beyond Calatrava’s $125-million gondola, city and state officials
called for “visionary ideas” to reconceive the entire island,
a historic federal base that was ceded to New York more than a decade
ago for $1 under the provision that it be developed for public use.

Doctoroff said the official “request for proposals,” which are
due May 10, would put the island on “an aggressive timetable for
2008.”

The “winner” of the RFP process will assume the $12 million
annual maintenance costs that are now split between the city and state,
Doctoroff said.

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