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Carter's View

Community Board 4 send a letter February 8 to Elliot G. Sander, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Robert C. Lieber, New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, stating that it is "profoundly concerned that the MTA and the City are beginning the first phase of the extension of the No. 7 subway line without having the funding in place for the completion of the project, including the stop at Tenth Avenue and West 41st Street or a provision for cost overruns."

As currently planned, the proposed extension from the Times Square Station at 42nd Street would have one stop at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, close to the Javits Convention Center, whose expansion plans are now uncertain.

The extension was initially planned to facilitate access from midtown to a proposed new football stadium over the MTA's west side rail yards between 31st and 33rd Streets. The city at the time rezoned the area between the rail yards and 42nd Street to accommodate very and very dense substantial new residential and commercial development.

Many local elected officials sent a letter December 20 to then Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff declaring that plans to extend the 7 subway line 1.1 miles from Times Square to Javits Convention Center and the MTA's West Side railyards without creating a station at Tenth Avenue and 41st Street is "a profound mistake, inconsistent with public promises and an invitation to fiscal irresponsibility."

Not building that station, they argued, "would represent a failure to provide for the area's growing residential population" and "would also put at risk several million square feet of potential commercial and residential development, which would generate substantial direct and indirect economic benefits for the City."

The elected officials who signed the letter were Senator Charles E. Schumer, City Controller William C. Thompson Jr., City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, State Senator Tom Duane, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The letter was also signed by Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, Kathleen Treat of the Hells Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Christine Berthet of the Clinton/Hells Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition.

The plans for the extension have called for it to be financed by the City with bonds backed by anticipated payments in lieu of taxes from the development of the West Side with a total of $3.1 billion to be issued with $2.1 billion being for the extension and the remainder for infrastructure improvements on the far West Side such as the "profiling of 33rd Street, the reconstruction of the 11th Avenue viaduct, the construction of a mid-block boulevard running from 33rd to 38th Streets and the construction of parks and open space," the letter maintained.

The February letter was signed by Jean-Daniel Noland, chair of Community Board 4 and Jay Marcus and Christine Berthet, co-chairs of its transportation planning committee.

"We believe the change in environment - both in terms of spiraling construction costs threatening MTA projected capital projects and the likely slowing of commercial development during the next several years threatening the already risky HYIC financing scheme the city intended to fund the No. 7 line extension - requires that the MTA and City not proceed with this project until there is an honest plan in place to pay for the entire project. To otherwise risks wasting $1.145 billion on a tunnel that can not be turned into a subway extension because money runs out, or saddling the taxpayers and fare payers with a $1 billion cost overrun. Neither alternative is acceptable," the letter stated.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.