By Dustin Brown
Borough President Helen Marshall suggested this week that Governors Island be designated the site of the Olympic Village after President Bush announced he would turn the federally owned property over to New York.
But the leader of the city’s Olympic bid effort later discounted Marshall’s idea as unworkable.
Bush made the offer to hand over the 172-acre island to the city and state for a nominal fee as he stood with Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a White House ceremony Monday morning.
Bloomberg has already discussed the idea of establishing a teacher training center and CUNY campus there.
The city’s elaborate bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games calls for the Olympic Village to be placed at the southern end of Queens West, a city-state development project along the borough’s Hunters Point waterfront.
But in a press release issued Monday, Marshall suggested Governors Island, which sits off the southern tip of Manhattan, would make a more suitable location.
“Given the city’s increased use of ferries, the island’s unique location and its scenic views, an international community of athletes would have a safe and secure home for the duration of the Games,” she said in the release.
Jay Kriegel, executive director of NYC 2012, the organization responsible for the city’s Olympic bid, said in response that Governors Island could not provide the speed and efficiency of transportation achieved at Queens West.
“It would be a far less appealing, attractive bid from what we have,” Kriegel said, citing the difficulty of moving athletes off the island exclusively via ferry. “It doesn’t work as a village.”
He also said to change the bid, a 600-page document submitted June 1, 2001 to the U.S. Olympic Committee, would break the rules.
Queens West sits at the center of a proposed transportation network called the Olympic X, which consists of trains running east-west and ferries running north-south that would take athletes directly to every venue.
“The key to the bid is the transportation plan,” Kriegel said.
Marshall objects to the proposition of putting the village at Queens West.
“Rather than interfering with an ongoing development that is already under construction in heavily trafficked Long Island City, Governors Island provides a unique opportunity to accommodate an international community in a premier setting,” she said in her statement.
The bid calls for Olympic athletes to be the first tenants of the residential towers at Queens West, a project already planned in detail.
“This is totally consistent with the plans, and we believe the timing will work perfectly,” Kriegel said.
Additional residences would be built to the east along Newtown Creek to house all athletes and coaches.
New York is one of four cities competing to become the American candidate for the Summer Games in 2012. The others are Houston, San Francisco, and Washington. The U.S. Olympic Committee is expected to announce its choice Nov. 3, and the International Olympic Committee will select the host city from a pool of worldwide candidates in 2005.
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.