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West Midtown Transit Corridor

Madison Square Garden/Penn Station

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is confronting a slew of massive, vitally needed infrastructure projects in, or immediately across the street from, our district, including Amtrak's Gateway Project, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Moynihan Station, and Penn Station; and

WHEREAS, The kind of holistic, coordinated planning that is essential to make these clearly interconnected projects the best they can be for our city and region is currently not being done; and

WHEREAS, CB5 has called for the sustained political and administrative leadership necessary to accomplish such coordination; and

WHEREAS, Given the little more than 6 years left on the MSG Special Permit, the new Federal administration's focus on infrastructure improvements, the ongoing build-out of Hudson Yards, the ramp-up of the planning and budgeting process for a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the incremental but advancing progress of Gateway, the next few years represent a critical but limited window of opportunity to make vital decisions about what this district and what our city will look like in the years and decades to come; and

WHEREAS, Penn Station is the most important transportation hub in North America but is unsafe, claustrophobic and desperately in need of improvements to capacity, access, and overall experience; and

WHEREAS, Penn Station was designed for a capacity of approximately 200,000 people but now has approximately 650,000 daily users (more than La Guardia, JFK, and Newark Airports combined); and

WHEREAS, Penn Station's cramped and crowded interiors are a fire and safety risk in the event of an emergency; and

WHEREAS, Madison Square Garden, which sits directly above Penn Station, presents an impenetrable obstacle to meaningful improvement at Penn Station, especially considering that its supporting columns significantly constrain any improvements to the track and platform level of the station; and

WHEREAS, In 2013, Community Board Five called for limiting Madison Square Garden's Special Permit renewal to only 10 years in an effort to generate action on a plan to move MSG, stating: "MSG sits on top of Penn Station constraining opportunities to make significant improvements;" and,

WHEREAS, Subsequently, the City Council agreed with our approach, rejecting MSG's request for a permit in perpetuity, and approved the Special Permit for a period of only ten years; and

WHEREAS, CB5 recognizes that there have been many proposals to address the issues at Penn/MSG ranging from the bold but financially unrealistic, to the immediately achievable but completely inadequate; and

WHEREAS, CB5 believes that any solution for moving Madison Square Garden and building a new Penn Station must be technically feasible, economically viable and capable of providing dramatic, sweeping improvements to the entire passenger experience for current ridership as well as the tens of thousands of additional riders likely to use Penn Station when Hudson Yards is completed and the pending Garment District rezoning comes to fruition; and

WHEREAS, A plan created by architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, at the initiative of The New York Times, speaks to all these considerations; and

WHEREAS, His proposed solution provides for a new Madison Square Garden in the same neighborhood where it currently sits (the heart of Midtown Manhattan), with excellent transit links and a new state-of-the-art facility; and

WHEREAS, It provides the outline of potential funding mechanisms (air rights transferred from the MSG site as well as Tax Increment Finance schemes) to pay for the movement of the Garden and to finance a dazzling new light and air-filled Penn Station using the bones of the current Madison Square Garden structure; and

WHEREAS, This solution proposes to integrate the incoming Gateway project and its Penn South Station into a new Penn Station that fits into the surrounding infrastructure, something CB5 has been calling for; and

WHEREAS, This proposal envisions an improved and enlivened Penn Office District that can have knock-on benefits for the long-neglected 8th Avenue corridor between Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal (a district with invaluable transit resources); and

WHEREAS, Only with meaningful dialogue and cooperation between and among the various private and City, State and Federal agencies that own and operate these facilities can we know the true capacity needs of any new future Port Authority Bus Terminal or terminals and where it or they should be located; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five praises the innovative proposal by Mr. Chakrabarti for its extraordinary vision and creativity, for achieving the goal of dramatically improving safety, light, air, and pedestrian circulation conditions to Penn Station, while allowing for a new, state-of-the-art Madison Square Garden inside an existing historic resource; and be it further

RESOLVED, CB5 recognizes that only with coordinated, holistic planning can all the major west midtown transit projects - Amtrak's Gateway, Penn Station, Moynihan Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal - move forward with a smart unified vision; and be it further

RESOLVED, CB5 calls on our elected representatives at all levels, and the senior leadership at all these facilities and projects, to work together, to seriously consider and analyze Mr. Chakrabarti's proposal, and to take the concrete steps necessary so that New York's west midtown transit corridor can become the proud 21st Century portal our city and region deserves and so desperately needs.

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