HELL’S KITCHEN — The Port Authority could face years of opposition if it builds its new bus terminal west of Ninth Avenue, Manhattan’s Borough President Gale Brewer warned officials at a town hall meeting.
More than 100 Hell’s Kitchen residents and elected officials packed into Metro Baptist Church at 410 W. 40th St. on Monday to speak out against the Port Authority’s plans to build a “multi-billion dollar terminal” west of Ninth Avenue to replace the “aging” facility on Eighth Avenue.
In February, Community Board 4 warned the authority its plans could “obliterate” Hell’s Kitchen, as the plan would likely involve demolishing existing buildings.
“People are going to tie you up in court, tie you up in demonstrations… the project will be stymied for years,” Brewer said.
"Let's work together — then the project will get done in the right way," she added.
Officials invited to Monday's meeting reiterated the Port Authority’s intent to select a plan for the new facility through a “design and deliverability competition,” with a commitment to building in Manhattan rather than New Jersey, as some advocates had pushed for.
In October, members of a Port Authority working group honed in on a Port Authority-owned property between Ninth and 11th avenues as the best location for the new terminal, meeting minutes showed.
But attendees implored the board to consider alternatives.
“I understand Port Authority wants to ‘minimize the impact’ on the community,” CB4 member Jean-Daniel Noland said, quoting a Port Authority official at the meeting. “That’s not reassuring.”
“Why wouldn’t they consider putting an infrastructure in New Jersey and transitioning commuters onto some kind of rail?” added CB4 member Ernest Modarelli.
Prior to the public session, Deputy Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Mark Muriello assured attendees the Port Authority would not be trying to “overrun” the neighborhood with the new facility.
“We want to make sure the relationship is one that works for everyone,” Muriello maintained.
But after CB4 presented a slideshow that included a map of sites that could be affected by the new terminal’s construction — which included photos of longtime residents and businesses — board chairwoman Delores Rubin asked officials to take the area’s current residents into consideration.
“That’s rich history, rich lives, and there is an impact,” she said.
Hell’s Kitchen resident Joseph Calcagno Capizzi, who owns Capizzi Pizzeria at 547 Ninth Ave., suggested the authority’s plans were financially motivated.
"New York State has the worst eminent domain laws in the country — there is no goodwill for businesses," he said.
“Let me tell you how much money they’re going to make by taking our property,” he added.
Others, including Sister Joana Samba of the Dwelling Place — a transitional women's shelter on West 40th Street — said they feared fixtures like the Sea Breeze Fish Market on Ninth Avenue, the Dwelling Place and Metro Baptist Church could be eliminated by the plans.
“As so often happens," Samba said, "the poor, the vulnerable get pushed out in the name of progress."