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Discord and Confusion over Penn Plans

8th Avenue Penn Station entrance

Elected officials announced yesterday that they wanted a “grand” new Eighth Avenue entrance to Penn Station that involved removing the theater at Madison Square Garden. But MTA officials showed up to say two new corner entrances would be fine.

While confusing, the press conference finally revealed some official unhappiness with the MTA’s modest proposal for Penn and the desire for a new RFP process that might finally give the public a truly better Station.

“There has to be an open bidding process,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “This is not a deal with any individual company.”

The press conference came ahead of tomorrow’s City Council vote that is expected to give Madison Square Garden a five-year permit to remain in place.

What the gathering demonstrated is the need for a full public review of all the proposed plans for Penn Station.

A plan by ASTM North America would leave the Garden in place but remove the theater. Other plans would remove the Garden.

None of the officials spoke about actually improving transportation. There also needs to be an unbiased look at whether through-running, which would allow trains to continue past Penn to other destinations, could happen at Penn. That could eliminate the need for a multibillion-dollar expansion to the south.

The State needs to formally withdraw a General Project Plan (GPP) that focuses on demolishing blocks of Midtown for giant office towers that are no longer economically viable or needed.

The Conservancy submitted an amicus brief supporting lawsuits challenging the GPP’s legality. We are awaiting the Judge’s decision.

There are tens of billions of public money being bandied about. Blocks of midtown may still be leveled. The public deserves far more reliable information and transparency.

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy

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