In New York it’s hard to escape the billowing exhaust fumes emanating from vehicles, the cacophonous sounds of honking taxi cabs, the stench of garbage piled along narrow streets, or even the dingy rats that carelessly scuttle along the gritty underground railway tracks.

So, it’s even harder to imagine that come 2012, the Big Apple could be a hot spot for an eco-friendly vacation. And, yet, it may very well be, because that’s when the city hopes to complete its transformation of the southern half of Governors Island into a 40-acre sustainable, eco-friendly park.

Formerly a military post for the US Army and Coast Guard, Governors Island became the property of New York in 2003 when the state bought the 173-acre strip of land just below lower Manhattan from the federal government for a bargain price of $1.

If the project comes to fruit as envisioned, visitors can expect to get a bang for the buck. In the next few years, a team of architects plans to build a 2.2-mile promenade along the water as well as botanical greenhouses and an aquatic center. The team intends to also use recycled materials from abandoned Coast Guard buildings to create man-made hills and mountains. There’s talk, too, of adding a floating restaurant—ideal for those looking to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty while enjoying the latest catch of the day from the harbor. And, for the more energetic bunch, there could be the option of riding specially designed wooden bicycles to venture further into the island.

At the moment, the northern half of the island is still open to the public for outdoor activities, such as biking and picnics, and tours of historic buildings. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to have your say or want to keep track of the park’s progress before planning your next trip, you can do so at the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation Web site.

[Via PhysOrg]