HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO SELL NEW YORK'S GOVERNORS ISLAND

HOUSE PANEL VOTES TO SELL NEW YORK'S GOVERNORS ISLAND

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted Thursday to put New York's Governors Island up for sale to the highest bidder and set a starting price of $500 million.

The committee action, which must be approved by both the House and Senate, was taken as part of mandatory year-end budget maneuvers designed to reconcile transportation programs with available funding over the next seven years.Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., who represents Staten Island, got into a debate over the future of the New York harbor island with Rep. Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., who represents Manhattan.

Rep. Nadler objected to bill language that would give New York state and New York City a right of first refusal in bidding for Governors Island, a right Rep. Molinari said had been requested by the governor and the mayor.

Unwittingly, Congress could be giving away a valuable federal asset, Rep. Nadler said. Governors Island is 173 acres of prime real estate that is probably worth three or four times the $500 million estimate placed on it by the Congressional Budget Office, he said.

Governors Island long has been occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard, which faces operating reductions of $400 million over the next four years. To reach that target, the Coast Guard's streamlining plan includes closure and relocation of its Governors Island base.