It could be a clash of the titans.
In the most wide ranging discussion yet on the future of Penn Station, Community Board Five will convene a panel of engineers, mass transit and policy experts as well as representatives from Italian construction giant ASTM to debate new plans for what the board calls “one of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects of the century.”
The forum is set for Monday, April 24, at MOMA in the Bartos Theater, 4 West 54th St. from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm and it is expected to draw a big crowd. CB5 plays a key advisory role in the ongoing discussions to redesign Penn Station, which is says is “the most important train hub in the US.”
Penn Station and Madison Square Garden sit smack in the middle of Community Board 5’s boundaries, and though the board’s role is only advisory, politicians often watch the community board debates to see which way the public is leaning on issues.
The Monday night forum will give the public its first chance to give feedback and question officials at construction giant ASTM which recently unveiled a new alternative plan to knock down part of the structure to allow more light into the underground rail hub. Its plan calls for it to buy and then demolish the present Hulu Theater on the Eighth Ave. side and build a new grand entrance. But the plan will still allow Madison Square Garden to sit atop the nation’s busiest rail hub, which some critics say is unacceptable.
CB5 wants Jim Dolan to move Madison Square Garden from its place atop Penn Station to make way for a grand, above ground rail terminal.
CB5 noted that when Penn Station opened 50 years ago, it was designed to move 200,000 commuters and regional travelers a day. But CB5 says “over 600,000 people use the cramped, dangerously outdated Penn Station each day. What are the operational steps needed to transform Penn Station into a world-class commuter hub?
“How should this complex project be funded? What impact will this major expansion have on the surrounding neighborhood and communities?
Panelists who are expected Monday include: Chris Ward, Former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Felicia Park-Rogers, Director of Regional Infrastructure Projects at Tri-State Transportation Campaign; Petra Todorovich Messick, Senior Director, Gateway Program, Amtrak; Peter Cipriano, senior Vice President, ASTM North America.
The wide ranging forum will be moderated by CB5’s Layla Law-Gisiko, who is chair of the Community Led Improvement Plan (CLIP).
“Penn Station is the beating heart of the Northeast Corridor, it is essential for the entire region. Manhattan Community board 5 is committed to developing a transit-focused plan that brings all stakeholders to the table and gains cross acceptance,” she said.
“Penn Station is the beating heart of the Northeast Corridor. It is essential for the entire region.” Layla Law-Gisiko, chair of the community-led Improvement Plan (CLIP). Task Force for Penn Neighborhood.