Ground was broken Thursday on a new public park project for Governors Island called "The Hills," which will build 11 acres of green space and hopes to give New Yorkers more incentive to hop on the ferry. NY1's Mahsa Saeidi filed the following report.
Governors Island is becoming the "it" summer destination for New Yorkers who want to take in breathtaking views of the New York Harbor.
As he broke ground on a new public park project for the area Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "The Hills" would give New Yorkers, including himself, another reason to hop on the ferry.
"Yeah, I come over occasionally," said the mayor. "It's a lot of fun."
Back in May, construction began on 30 acres of new parkland on the island. "The Hills" will add 11 more acres to that space.
Once complete, four hills will be featured along with trees and walking paths.
"One of the hills is 80 feet high," said landscape architect Adriaan Geuze. "People are able to walk up. It's ADA accessible. You seriously see everything."
Visitors will be able to see everything like never before, including a panorama of the Statute of Liberty, Ellis Island, New York Harbor, and the Lower Manhattan skyline.
According to Geuze, the park has provisions for any future coastal flooding.
"We had an idea that it was absolutely necessary to lift the level of the island above the flood levels," said Geuze.
Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island, says they were also thinking green and about the importance of sustainability.
"Just about six weeks ago, I was standing on this spot seeing the debris as we imploded a building and you're going to be standing on that debris in the future when you come to visit 'The Hills' of Governors Island," said Koch.
This public park is privately funded.
Google's Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy donated $15 million for the project.
"When I grew up in New Jersey, I would travel to New York with my parents - we went to what we called 'The Dirty City' - and apart from glimpses of trees in Central Park, I don't remember any landscapes with trees of any interest," said Wendy Schmidt.
During the entire 2005 season, about 8,000 people hopped on the ferry to visit Governors Island.
Last year, that number was more like 8,000 people a day.
The mayor hopes this trend continues when the park opens in the spring of 2015.