Elected to Port Authority: Go back to Square one

No one said it was going to be pretty!  In a whirlwind of meetings with the City, press conferences and letters back and forth, the City and our elected officials made it clear to the Port Authority that the current process was backward and should be started over from the beginning.

On July 20, the Community board engaged in a constructive discussion of the parameters that should be respected to allay the community concerns. This became the basis for a letter to the Port Authority voted at the July 27th full board.

largerAfter meeting with the city,  in late July, Elected officials sent a letter to the Port Authority  and doubled down with a press conference and testimonies at the Port Authority Board , highlighting the numerous reasons why the proposals were unacceptable to the community and asking to sop the competition.
(Politico  NorthJerseycom  NYCgov  NY Post Crains Crains)

With the Port Authority vowing to stay the course and continue its competition , the New York elected officials  led by Congressman Jerry Nadler declined to attend a meeting arranged by the Port Authority  for the competitors of the Design and deliverability competition to hear community input. In a letter to the Port Authority dated August 2016, our elected officials objected to a process where some of the options have been arbitrarily taken off the table without analysis (specifically a New Jersey location),  where eminent domain and increased air pollution will probably derail the project, and where there has been no regional planning. They instead requested a new meeting with the Port Authority management. (Politico  Politico)

The Port Authority declined to stop the Design competition but is now calling it a first step. The New Jersey elected officials sent a letter to the Port Authority to reiterate their position of one seat ride and urgency .

Meetings are being set with the Port Authority to initiate the dialogue.


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New Jersey Riders to Port Authority: Give us a Quicker Commute

Len Resto , President of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Riders says it best:

lenresto“State legislators not wanting any new bus terminal in Secaucus because, according to them, New Jersey residents want a one-seat ride to New York City.  Such thinking springs from those who do not have a daily ride there. Most daily riders who go to the current bus terminal already have a two- or three-seat ride to their ultimate job destinations. The change of seats happens to occur in Manhattan.”


In a detailed and articulate editorial, Mr Resto argues that riders want a faster commute more than a single seat ride.

“When you ask riders if they would rather have a one-seat ride or a quicker commute, the answer in more than 90 percent of cases is for the quickest route”

“A bus terminal in Secaucus could have worked if New York and New Jersey, with the help of the MTA, came together to extend the 7 subway line from its current Hudson Yards terminus to Secaucus. Instead of switching to subways in New York City, passengers would switch in Secaucus and for many the three-seat ride would have become a two-seat ride because the “7” can get them to both Times Square and Grand Central — the East Side of Manhattan, where most work”.

“New Jersey political leaders [...]should have polled and spoken with die-hard daily commuters before claiming to represent the “wishes of their constituents.”

When basic  goals are still not understood for  a project, New York Elected officials are right to want to restart the process for a new bus terminal from square one. It would benefit commuters by letting them speak up on their wants and needs. Listening to the community and the customers could really hold the answer that has been so elusive to the Port Authority since 2013.

Len Resto is a former Council Member of the Borough of Chatham in New Jersey.

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Street Seats and More arrive in South Hell’s Kitchen


The Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance continues its steady stream of improvements in the District. Street Seats were installed on 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. Such public seating is located in the parking lane and thus does not take any pedestrian space. It is funded by DOT but the business provides maintenance. With the beautiful background the Glass House building, the seats became immediately popular. A really terrific addition to the district



On W 37th Street,between 9 and 10th Avenues,  a number of volunteers painted the Port Authority bridges on August 2nd. Members of the Planning committee led by David Solnick selected background and Accent colors. Tishmann Volunteers did the heavy lifting .

Finally , Ascension, a 9-foot steel sculpture by local artist Jordan Baker-Caldwell, was installed on August 10th in the Canoe plaza at West 36th Street and Ninth Avenue.  This is a great representation of the Hell’s Kitchen spirit.


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Community to Port Authority : Not So Fast!

PANYNJ deloresOn June 30, 2016, at the most recent Board meeting of the Port Authority , Community Board 4 Chair, Delores Rubin and CB4 co-Chair of Transportation Committee, Christine Berthet, asked the Port  Authority to slow down the process and give time to the International Design Competition’s contestants to absorb community input and factor it in their submission. AMNY

See video at 0:28:27

Earlier last week , Chairman John Degnan agreed to set up a Town Hall  in July for the 5 competitors to hear directly from the Community Board and other interested civic groups. The August 8th deadline for submissions would leave competitors with 2 to 3 weeks to incorporate the input, an unrealistic timeline, that would make the input essentially irrelevant.

Prompted by the press, the Chair said that he does not want to rush the process and was open to delay the deadline if, after hearing the community input, the contestants request it.  NJ.com

This is indeed great news for our community, and we appreciate the Port Authority’s Chair commitment to the earlier board resolution to seek significant input from the community and the city.


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City Council wants Better Sidewalks – We do too

On the 23rd of June, the City Council Transportation Committee held a hearing on a bill, intended to bring some semblance of order to the chaos of news racks on the sidewalks . DOT, Business Improvement Districts and Civic groups like CIVITAS supported the bill, while it  independent press groups who use the racks for local distribution opposed it.

But from the beginning Chair Ydanis Rodriguez indicated that it was a larger issue about making the sidewalks better for pedestrians. We could not have agreed more . Here is CHEKPEDS testimony:

“In the Central Business district, where the number of tourists has swelled to 59 million a year and the height of the building has gone from 6 stories to 60 stories, sidewalk sizes have not changed in 100 years. In some cases, sidewalk has shrunk to make space for automobile, as is the case on 9th Avenue.
75% of New-Yorkers walk at some point during their commute. 50% of Port Authority commuters walk to their final destination in midtown.  The sidewalk is really a Walk lane that serves a mode of transportation like the bus lane, the car lane or the parking lane.
Imagine if the car lane had Links, newsstands, newspaper boxes, A frames, storm enclosures, various vendors and sidewalk cafés obstructing it? It is urgent that we make it so that pedestrians can move most effectively and in comfort.

  • Change the name of the sidewalk to “ Walk lane” along the measures recently adopted on Times Square.
  • Give to the Department of Transportation (DOT) the mission to enforce all the rules related to obstruction, furniture etc…that are on the Sidewalk
  • Give DOT the mission to establish rules for placement of all obstructions to reduce clutter and improve walking capacity, depending on foot traffic. This would let DOT specify rational placement of trees and utilities like ConEd grids which are a major obstacle to walking and greening.   And a whole discussion should be open about Signals and lighting poles catch basins and flooding at corners.
  • Return Walk lanes’ maintenance to the city. Why are my taxes paying for the maintenance of car lanes and not walk lanes?  Also property owners who pay for their sidewalk’s maintenance consider it their right to install furniture on it.  It would also accelerate the adoption of the permeable concrete for sidewalks a critical sustainability initiative. ”
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Canoe Plaza Inauguration

A big improvement was  added to the Canoe plaza, at 36th sTreet between 9/Dyer Avenues with 6 tables and 5 umbrellas and the jersey barricade was moved to create further pedestrian space . Council Member Johnson granted the funds to the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, who maintains the Canoe


The Table, Chairs and umbrellas made the whole difference. It is now a popular area and a superb gateway to Hudson Yards to the west. thanks you to CHDC and Shanti Nagel for the spectacular planted beds. So much better than the parking that used to depress this area.




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Get informed, Speak Up & Take Action on Port Authority Plans

WSNA will discuss an action plan for the coming months

West side Neighborhood Alliance Port Authority redevelopment subcommittee
Thursday, July 7, 2016, 7 p.m.
454 West 35th Street (btw Dyer/10)

Clinton/ Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee will review the report of the Working group –  NO RSVP needed

Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee
Wednesday, July 13, 6:30 p.m.
Cameo Studios – 3027 W 43rd Street, Studio B


In addition, the Port Authority has launched a Survey of the community and commuters to inform the Competitors produce a conceptual design that most fully meets the Design + Deliverability Objectives for a new Bus Terminal.

But remember, showing up in person is critical to participate in the process .

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Community To Port Authority : DO NO HARM!

IMG_4783In April, our Elected Officials and Community Board 4 organized a Town Hall for a reluctant Port Authority management to explain to the public their plans for a new Bus terminal in our midst and to give an opportunity for community members to voice their  concerns.

The Town Hall took place at the Metro Baptiste Church, in the heart of the area affected by the Port Authority plans which threaten to demolish three blocks on 9th Avenue. Over 250 people participated, with standing room only and overflowing on the sidewalk. More Photos 

Click here to view the Port Authority’s Presentation
Click here to view the Community Board presentation from the Town Hall on the Port Authority Bus Terminal Redesign.

The whole community including families and businesses that have been here for generations and charitable organizations that service a much larger swath of our district could not have been clearer:  DO NO HARM. And Council Member Corey Johnson put it plainly when he indicated he would oppose any structure that requires the demolition of existing buildings in the heart of our community. Borough President Gale Brewer warned the Port Authority that they will be tied up in lawsuits forever if they continue down that path. The community board followed up with a second strong letter to the Port Authority reflecting the community positions.  Click here to view the first letter.

Many speakers accurately remarked that without increasing Lincoln tunnel capacity, there will be little relief for the commuters in terms of reliability of service. They also wondered why not bring commuters by train or subway (extend #7) from a terminal in New Jersey and spare our neighborhood from the ever increasing number of buses and associated pollution.

Fortunately the message seemed to have been heard: in a subsequent meeting with New Jersey legislators , the Port Authority management indicated that they heard the message loud and clear that the community is dead against any use of Eminent Domain in New York City. In addition, the Community Board letters were passed on to the contestants of the International Design Competition that the Port Authority has initiated.

But let’s not celebrate, this is not the last round and while it is the biggest, it is not the only threat the Port Authority plan poses to our neighborhood.

Stay informed, Be Vigilant 

Chelsea Now 
The Real Deal
DNA info


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We are on our own: Albany does not care if drivers kill children, De Blasio gives more talk than $$

While the Families for Safe Streets @NYC_SafeStreets and Transportation Alternatives put together a strong coalition and mounted a brilliant campaign in Albany, the legislative leaders failed to include the modest bill to increase the number of cameras by 60 and increase their hours of operations, in the package negotiated with Governor Cuomo, claiming that NYC Council had not passed a home rule.

Today there are 140 cameras for more than 2,000 schools and they can operate only when school is in session. So when kids are safe inside , we turn on the cameras!

This is heartbreaking for all of us and in particular for the families of victims of traffic violence, and it is infuriating for the tax payers who pay the salary of elected officials. We are lucky to have outstanding Senators and Assembly members but should we question the whole Albany concept ? Is this time to NYEXIT?

This should also remind us that Vision Zero principles are to start with street redesign, educate, then enforce. We will not succeed by over-relying on enforcement.

With Mayor De Blasio denying any increase in the 2017 DOT budget to prevent traffic deaths, I wonder why parents and  activists are not working with the Transformation January 16 - Camera Roll 1 004Department  @NYC_DOTr to install Topes, the most efficient speed breakers in the world (it will wreck your car if you go faster than 5 miles per hour) at VERY  low cost.  If 10 of these were installed per day, all the schools would be safe by next year. Can you imagine how many deaths and injuries could be avoided ?  If we cannot rely on our governments to keep us safe, we should be able to rely not on guns but on Topes, which may kill suspensions but will save lives.


Posted in CHEKPEDS, Complete Streets, Traffic Justice | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Call for Action: Rally for a speed safety camera for every school

Do you know that New York is allowed only 40 Speed enforcement cameras, around schools and only when the school is in session?  So when kids are out of school at their most vulnerable, there is no enforcement. This is absurd but that is what Albany passed last year. Say you’ll be at the June 9th Rally for #EverySchool.


On May 10, 2016, 150 New Yorkers went to Albany , to push the Every School Speed Safety Camera Bill forward. They had 38 meetings with legislators and convinced 17 to sign on in support of the campaign. Another 19 legislators gave an enthusiastic maybe.

Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives are planning a huge rally for June 9th. On the steps of City Hall, with hundreds of families, CHEKPEDS will join them to  call for the passage of this bill.

Rally for the Every School Speed Safety Camera Bill
Thursday, June 9, 10:30 a.m.
City Hall

Like everything worthwhile in this world, making our streets safe starts with New Yorkers like you. Say you’ll be there on June 9th. Please invite school principals, teachers and  PTA presidents. Bring your children.


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