Governors Island activist starts up public outreach

NEW YORK: For more than six years, Joep de Koning has waged a lonely battle to convince politicians to turn over one-third of Governors Island for a "living museum-park." The nonprofit park would honor New York's legacy of tolerance, the roots of which, de Koning says, come from its 17th century Dutch origins on Governors Island.

NEW YORK: For more than six years, Joep de Koning has waged a lonely battle to convince politicians to turn over one-third of Governors Island for a "living museum-park." The nonprofit park would honor New York's legacy of tolerance, the roots of which, de Koning says, come from its 17th century Dutch origins on Governors Island.

But de Koning admits that he has basically gotten nowhere with lawmakers. So he is finally reaching out to the people.

He began that effort April 22 by including a press release about his campaign and his group, The Foundation for Historic New Amsterdam, in PR Newswire's package of releases for Memorial Day features.

De Koning compares his plan for the island - located near the southeastern tip of Manhattan in Upper New York Bay - to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and Historic Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.

He has put some hope for his project in the appearance of a new history of Dutch Manhattan by journalist Russell Shorto.

De Koning admitted the response to the press release so far has been underwhelming, but it is also still weeks until Memorial Day.

And de Koning hasn't given up on the politicians. To realize his dream, he needs the state legislature to pass a bill. He planned to meet last week with the leaders of the tourism and ethics committees.

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