Opponents of Controversial Penn Station Plan Release Statement Ahead of State Board Meeting to Advance Project

Empire State Development to Vote on Final Environmental Impact Statement Today, One of the Final Hurdles for State to Rush Through Massive Giveaway to Billionaire Mega-donor

NEW YORK, NY (06/30/2022) (readMedia)-- Trains Before Towers – a new initiative supported by community residents, housing and transit advocates, and local business owners – released a statement ahead of today's Empire State Development (ESD) meeting, when the State board is expected to vote through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on its controversial plan to build 10 huge towers and 18 million square feet around Penn Station.

The EIS statement submitted by Trains Before Towers member organization New Yorkers for a Better Penn Plan is available here.

"This secretive, shoddy plan to redevelop Penn Station is a runaway train that must be stopped. Last week, lawmakers probed ESD for answers to questions that elected officials, advocates and experts have been raising for months–and those questions were left unanswered. How can the State possibly continue to push this plan forward when the State has not disclosed basic information about its scope, financing, or supposed transit improvements? Lawmakers must stop this plan, which will enrich a billionaire mega-donor at the expense of desperately needed transit improvements," said Diana Gonzalez, campaign manager of Trains Before Towers.

The plan, which would usurp City land use authority, would enrich billionaire developer Steve Roth of Vornado without any guarantees the scheme would adequately fund transit improvements at Penn Station. Roth is also a major donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign.

Despite serious and unanswered concerns raised by New York City's Independent Budget Office, the New York City Planning Commission and nearly every State Senator representing the five boroughs, ESD is also planning a final vote on the plan in a matter of weeks.

Last month, the City's Independent Budget Office released a report, raising serious questions about the financial viability of the project and whether there were enough details to gauge the plan's impact. The IBO report also concluded that while the State would collect payments from Vornado, the City would lose out on property tax revenue that it would have earned in a standard rezoning process. A majority of the city's Senate delegation have voiced opposition to the plan. The Senators specifically voiced concerns about how much Vornado will receive in subsidies and other State-sponsored benefits as part of the plan and how much the City stands to lose in property taxes, urging ESD to halt the plan until there are "??explanations provided and agreements made associated with the cost, design, scope, bond liabilities, and other aspects of the project that remain unknown." Good government groups including Common Cause, Reinvent Albany, BetaNYC, League of Women Voters and NYPIRG have also voiced opposition to the plan.

About Trains Before Towers

TBT is a coalition of community organizations, transit advocacy groups, preservation organizations, affordable housing advocacy groups, and good government organizations dedicated to improving the transit infrastructure at Penn Station.