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Port Authority's Bus Terminal Plan a 'Slap in the Face,' Locals Say

By Maya Rajamani | August 12, 2016 10:11am | Updated on August 15, 2016 8:51am
 The area around the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
The area around the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

HELL’S KITCHEN — The Port Authority has asked elected officials opposed to a design competition for a new Manhattan bus terminal to come up with their own proposals — despite the agency's view that all realistic options for construction have already been exhausted.

On Wednesday, politicians including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Corey Johnson sent the Port Authority a letter stating they would boycott a meeting with the finalists of the contest that's been widely criticized for not including enough public input.

The agency responded the same day, maintaining staff and consultants had considered “literally scores” of ideas for a new terminal since 2013.

“While we are not, of course, ruling out other concepts developed through the Design and Deliverability Competition or otherwise, at this point we do not believe that unconsidered options which are both constructible and financeable exist,” Port Authority chairman John Degnan and vice chairman Steven Cohen wrote.

Nevertheless, the two invited the politicians to "make any suggestion or proposal for a new bus terminal on the West Side of Manhattan that [they] deem[ed] feasible.”

They also rejected the politicians' renewed calls to scrap the design competition, while suggesting elected officials attend a “series of briefings” at which staff and consultants could explain the agency’s process.

Earlier this week, the Port Authority asked the politicians to attend a Wednesday meeting with five finalists, according to their letter.

The elected officials declined the day of the meeting, stating that they were “not willing to give an aura of legitimacy” to the agency's "prejudicial process" by attending the meeting.

The meeting was subsequently canceled, according to Politico and a spokesman for Corey Johnson’s office.

“They don’t seem to be getting the point," Johnson said in a statement.

"For PANYNJ to imply that community input is unnecessary because they’ve considered every option is a big slap in the face to Hell’s Kitchen residents and local leaders." 

He also warned Port Authority officials that their actions could come back to bite them.

"If the Port Authority is not going to open this process up, it’s going to haunt them in the eventuality that they need land use approval from the City Council,” Johnson said.