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Dear Governor Hochul: Answers Please on Penn

The Conservancy joined 20 other civic groups in a joint letter to Governor Hochul today asking for “full transparency and explanation on several issues” related to the redevelopment of Penn Station.

“Penn should welcome residents, commuters, and visitors with an excellent experience and abundant transit capacity,” the letter reads “But there is conflicting information, and confusion, about what is happening and what could happen at Penn.”

The groups ask for a public bidding process for additional designs for the Station, a full explanation of why through-running is or isn’t feasible, and why the State clings to the General Project Plan (GPP) that would demolish blocks around Penn when other designs for the Station do not require, or ask for, this.

“The loss of historic Penn Station left a scar that generations have tried to heal.” The letter concludes. “If this is the moment when this loss is rectified, New Yorkers must be a part of that discussion. We look forward to a robust public dialogue that leads to the Station which New York needs and deserves.”

The letter echoes a recent press conference by Federal, State and City elected officials asking for a new, public, design proposals for Penn.

The Conservancy has always focused on opposing the GPP, which calls for demolishing surrounding homes, businesses, non-profits and architecturally worthy buildings. But we recognize that other groups have questions about Penn that deserve to be answered.

The MTA’s plan just to rehabilitate the station’s interior is estimated at some $7 billion. Amtrak, MTA and New Jersey Transit recently announced three different options for a new underground station and tracks with estimates reaching $17 billion. Two of those plans would require demolishing the block just south of Penn which contains the last McKim Mead & White building associated with Penn and a lovely 1872 Church which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The railroads are also taking another look at through-running, which proponents say could eliminate the need for an underground station addition.

Other proposed plans for Penn do not call for demolishing surrounding blocks. A private company, ASTM, has a plan for Penn that would have the company pay for developing the Station with pay back through Station income through the years. The current MTA plan, and the Railroads, look to taxpayer money.

Even if estimates didn’t reach a combined $24 billion, the public deserves real answers and the World-Class station the Governor says she wants.

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy

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