Now Is the Time to Protect Davids Island, Forever!
Davids Island is a rare, undeveloped, 78-acre island located ¼ mile off the coast of New Rochelle in Long Island Sound. The City of New Rochelle is in a unique position to purchase, restore and protect this island for generations to come!
Development Pressure Continues
Osprey’s nest on Davids Island
Over the years there have been many development proposals, ranging from a nuclear power plant to high-end condos. Fortunately, none of them have succeeded, but there remains constant pressure to develop the island for private use. Currently, New Rochelle provides limited public access to the waterfront, and these areas are increasingly becoming crowded during the summer months. Throughout the county we are seeing open space disappear at an unprecedented rate. More than 90% of Long Island Sound's coastline is already developed, making it difficult for the public to access. This is a rare opportunity in which the City of New Rochelle can preserve and protect 78 acres of waterfront land on the Sound for the public to access and enjoy!
The closest municipalities to Davids Island – New Rochelle, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Mt. Vernon and Larchmont – currently contain about five acres of parkland per 1000 residents. This is comparable to New York City, where there is approximately 7.2 acres per 1000 residents. Ten acres per 1000 residents is considered optimal.
History of Davids Island
Beginning just after the Civil War, Davids Island was a military base that represented a microcosm of New York’s involvement in U.S. military history by protecting New York Harbors, operating a recruitment station during World War I, and maintaining Cold War facilities up until 1967.
Today, Davids Island is home to a variety of plants, birds, and animals. These include the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, and rare birds such as osprey and least terns. Davids Island also supports valuable wetlands, rare rocky intertidal areas, and sandy beaches. The waters surrounding the Island are home to Winter Flounder, Atlantic Herring, and Atlantic Silversides.
PCB Remediation and Island Cleanup
Davids Island has been abandoned for many years. It has been subjected to vandalism, arson, contamination and years of neglect. Davids Island is currently a designated “brownfield site.” In 2004, at the request of Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congress appropriated funds for the demolition of the buildings and on Davids Island, removal of asbestos, and evaluating PCB cleanup, to accommodate the use of the island as open space. The $26 million demolition and asbestos removal was completed in 2009. On September 16, 2009, The Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing to evaluate alternatives for PCB remediation. The preferred alternative focused on removing all of the PCB-contaminated soil and transporting it off-site for proper disposal.
Aerial Image of Davids Island
The Future of Davids Island
The future of Davids is still in question. In 2002, former County Executive Andrew Spano and the Mayor of New Rochelle announced a plan for the county to purchase, restore, and protect Davids Island as public parkland. Unfortunately, the plans did not move forward and the island is still owned by the City of New Rochelle. In the 2010 State of the City Address, Mayor Noam Bramson announced plans to devise a conceptual plan for Davids Island and convened a Task Force (Davids Island Task Force) to shape and achieve a vision for Davids Island as both a destination for residents and the surrounding region. The City will be accepting community, regional, and stakeholder input to determine a vision for the Island’s future. On February 17, 2011, the Davids Island Task Force held a public hearing to get public input on a future vision for Davids Island. The public has consistently and overwhelmingly demonstrated strong support for Davids Island as parkland. This public support for preservation of this critical natural resource is what has advanced federal dollars for the needed remediation efforts. In October, 2011, the Davids Island Task Force report was released. They weighed different options including preservation and low, medium and high impact development; putting up wind turbines, creating a solar field, and building greenhouses. Preservation, greenhouses, solar cells, and medium development were all considered viable options. The Task Force recommended combining several options, such as preserving the area as public parkland but also building a research center or marina with solar panels. CCE has always advocated and will continue to advocate for the designation of Davids Island as a public park, which will provide open space for thousands of residents and benefit the ecosystem of the Long Island Sound.
Davids Island in the news:
"Davids Island team rates solar energy plant, hotel-conference center as best options" from the Journal News, 10/12/11
“New Rochelle mayor outlines challenges, successes in speech” from the Journal News, 3/12/10
“Davids Island Fades Into History in Tale of Two Isles” from the Journal News, 7/22/09
“Isle’s Last Silhouette Razed” from the Journal News, 9/10/08
"Decision coming on saving Davids Island buildings" from The Journal News, 2/19/07
"Congress approves $9M for cleanup at New Rochelle's Davids Island" from The Journal News, 10/4/06
"Remembering life on Davids Island" from The Journal News, 9/16/06
Updated by jchristensen 2/14/12