Description: The property containing the former Fort Jay (now known as Governors Island/Governors Island National Monument) is a 172-acre site located in New York, New York. It was acquired by the US Government by donations from the State of New York in 1800, 1880, 1901 and 1903. The Continental Army installed defensive works on the island in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. From the post 1812 era until WWI, the mission of Fort Jay was the defense of New York Harbor, but it was used also as a recruiting and training center. From WWI until 1965, Fort Jay was the headquarters for the 2nd Corps and later the First Army. The property was improved with approximately 207 administrations, storage, housing and other structures including utilities. In 1965 the First Army terminated activities at Fort Jay. As per General Order on 30 June 1966 the property was discontinued as an Army installation. On 31 July 1966, the Secretary of the Army conveyed Fort Jay to the Secretary of Transportation for the use by the US Coast Guard, who were the principal users of the island until 1996. The island is currently owned by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Trust for Governors Island (TGI).
Governors Island is a 10-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in New York City. The National Park Service (NPS) manages the Governors Island National Monument (22 acres), containing Fort Jay, Castle Williams, and Dock 102. The City of New York through the Trust for Governors Island (TGI) manages the remaining 150 acres. Governor’s Island is open to the public for recreational and education pursuits year-round from May through October. The Hills, a scenic park on the southwestern corner of the island, opened to the public in the summer of 2016. In addition to NPS and TGI, the island is currently home to the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school that serves approximately 430 students; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Arts Center, an artist studio residency program. The first commercial tenant on the island opened in 2017. Much of Governors Island is intended to be redeveloped in the future, for commercial, not-for-profit, and educational use.
Authorization: The Fort Jay property is being investigated under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program for Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS). The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 authorized this program.
Previous Investigations, Studies & Actions: The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has conducted several studies at the former Fort Jay over the years. Archive Search Reports (ASR’s) were conducted in 1997 and 2006, which compiled historical records of the island to determine potential munition related activities (use/storage) throughout the island. A Site Inspection (SI) report was conducted in 2008 which outlined the path forward for a future Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). An Inventory Project Report (INPR) was drafted in 2014 which clarified the results of the 2008 SI Report and emphasized what the focus of the future RI/FS should be, pertaining to scope of the actual work and physical locations on the island.
Status/Schedule (As of November 2021): USACE has reviewed all previous studies, investigations, and reports regarding the former uses on Governors Island. A Remedial Investigation (RI), focused on determining the nature and extent of potential Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC), was initiated, but access for the land portion of the Munitions Response Site (MRS) was ultimately not granted. A Remedial Investigation was completed for the waters surrounding Governors Island.
- Contract for RI/FS through Decision Document was awarded in June 2017.
- RI work plan development is complete. The plan was coordinated and reviewed by the Project Delivery Team, property owners, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
- Phase I of the RI field work, which consisted of data collection by geophysical mapping, began in March 2018 and concluded in April 2018.
- The PDT analyzed that data to determine locations for additional data collection by advanced geophysical classification, as well as to determine potential targets for intrusive investigation, however such work will not be conducted as access to the subject site is not being provided.
- Dive operations were conducted in September 2019, in waters surrounding Governors Island, to determine if any munitions were present as a result of past Army operations at the site (Phase II field work).
- RI report has been finalized as of September 2020, which addresses the water portion of the MRS only. The land portion of the MRS was not completed since access to the property was not granted. The land portion of the MRS will remain as an open FUDS project, which may be executed in the future if access is granted, subject to the availability of funds.
- Proposed Plan is being developed (for the water portion of the MRS) and is anticipated to be finalized by December 2021. The plan is scheduled to be made available to the public for review and comment in December 2021. A public meeting will also be scheduled for December 2021. The preferred remedy identified by USACE is No Action, since no munitions were found during the water investigations.
- Estimated completion of the Final Decision Document (for the water portion of the MRS) is in the first quarter of 2022.
Estimated Federal Cost: $1,500,000 (Remedial Investigation)
Amanda M. Regan, New York District Project Manager