Major clash looms over West Side plan
BY MICHAEL SAUL and DAVID SALTONSTALL
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
June 22, 2004
Get ready for a wild, wild fight over Manhattan's far West Side.
The city kicked off a likely raucous, seven-month review of its proposal to redevelop the far West Side yesterday by releasing a mostly upbeat assessment of the plan's environmental impacts.
The sweeping, multibillion-dollar makeover would extend the No. 7 subway line, add 24 acres of parks, build a new Jets stadium and create a towering new commercial corridor within a 40-block area, from 30th to 42nd Sts. and Seventh to 11th Aves.
"The result is a plan that will transform the area into a place where future generations will clamor to live, work, invest and visit," proclaimed City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden.
The stadium alone would cost $1.4 billion, and the subway extension $1.8 billion. Not included in the plan is a separate $1.4 billion expansion of the Javits Center. Yesterday's draft environmental review attempts to gauge the plan's impact on everything from traffic and air to the number of homes and businesses that would fall under the bulldozer.
But critics of the plan, which relies on $600 million in taxpayer dollars to build the new Jets stadium, immediately slammed the review as a whitewash.
"It looks like they haven't listened to anyone in the last two years," said John Fisher, head of the Clinton Special District Coalition, a neighborhood group opposed to the stadium. "They're intent on ramming this thing through."
The draft study found that the West Side overhaul would "dramatically improve neighborhood character" by transforming an "underutilized urban landscape" into a "lively, 24-hour" community.
Broadway theater owners would be helped, not hurt, by the added traffic, the report asserts - a view not shared by some theater owners.
And while 225 businesses with 4,269 employees would have to be evicted to make way for new development, the businesses "do not collectively represent substantial economic value to the city," the report stated. Another 139 people would lose their homes, it added.
Much of the report's traffic analyses looked at worst-case scenarios: A simultaneous Jets football game, Madison Square Garden concert and a convention at Javits. The report concluded that while most everyday traffic could be absorbed in the neighborhood, such "perfect storm" scenarios would cause major backups at a handful of intersections.
The draft also concluded that building a new Jets stadium in Queens, as some have suggested, would be just as expensive as in Manhattan. The only difference, the report added, is the Jets are willing to contribute $800 million toward the Manhattan site.
All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.