Comments of State Senator Duane
on the Proposed Draft Phase I Amended
General Project Plan for the Moynihan Station
Civic and Land Use Improvement Project

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senate District, which includes the proposed Moynihan Station and its associated facilities, including Penn Station, the 33rd Street Connector, and the West End Concourse, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton-Hell's Kitchen. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments today before the Empire State Development Corporation (gESDCh) and its subsidiary, the Moynihan Station Development Corporation (gMSDCh), regarding the Proposed Draft March 2010 Phase I Amended General Project Plan (gGPPh).

I have strongly supported Moynihan Station since the original 1999 proposal and have fought for various plans during the ensuing decade. Moynihan Station (gMoynihanh), named after former United States Senator Patrick Moynihan, who was its first champion, would transform the Farley Post Office building and Annex on the West Side of Eighth Avenue into a new train station to augment Pennsylvania Station (gPenn Stationh). Moynihan is crucial to alleviating the overwhelming congestion at Penn Station and increasing capacity and efficiency at the combined transit hub. By diverting approximately 20% of passengers from Penn Station to Moynihan, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road commuters will be able to clear platforms faster, which will reduce train dwell time and speed up travel for all the rail lines that utilize Penn Station today. Furthermore Moynihan Station will be a magnificent entryway to New York City.

The GPP under consideration today describes Phase I of a two-part plan that MSDC has proposed for Moynihan. Phase I will expand the existing West End Concourse in both width and length and create 19 new vertical access points from the platforms to the West End Concourse and subway connections, which will provide access to more platforms and optimize commuter flow. The 33rd Street Connector will also be widened to better facilitate passage between Penn Station, the A/C/E subway lines and the West End Concourse. Street level entrances to the tracks and platforms below will be created within the Farley building on the corners of 31st and 33rd Streets by removing the moat walls and converting existing windows into doors. Additional below-grade work includes re-stringing of the catenary system as well as new state-of-the-art emergency platform ventilation that will be installed in the train shed for the areas west of 8th Avenue. The majority of the proposed construction will occur on evenings and weekends, allowing for normal train operations.

An area of great interest for me in both Phases I and II is the treatment of the historic Farley building, designed by renowned firm McKim, Mead and White, the firm that also designed the original Penn Station. MSDC has gone to great lengths to ensure that Phase I alterations to the building are as contextual as possible. As MSDC moves forward with Phase I and begins the design and approval processes for Phase II, I request that MSDC continue to work closely with all concerned parties to ensure the highest level of historical sensitivity, especially with regard to any new signage. In addition, I am confident that the plans for the external ventilation shafts will be forthcoming and take into account the communityfs demand that they be as unobtrusive and inconspicuous as possible.

Finally, I believe that all major land use projects in New York City should go through the cityfs Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) even if such review is not legally required. ULURP, with its requisite community input, has served to strengthen countless projects, including the West Side Rail Yards, which, like Moynihan Station, was not obliged to undergo this process. While ideally Phase I of this project would have gone through ULURP, I understand that the accelerated timeline did not make this possible. However, I strongly believe that Phase II, which will have a much larger effect on the surrounding community, including the siting of millions of square feet of development rights, should be subject to the full public review process afforded by ULURP. This is critical to ensure that the communityfs interests are appropriately valued and incorporated into a final Moynihan plan.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my comments on Phase I of the newest plan for Moynihan Station. I appreciate the efforts of ESDC and MSDC in developing this most recent proposal to ensure that Senator Moynihan's long awaited vision comes to fruition. I look forward to working with ESDC, MSDC and the community to develop at last this exciting new transit hub.

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