Community Board Wants to Spread Awareness About Station Closures, But Shies Away from Calling for Delay

The inside of the 72nd Street B-C station.

By Alex Israel

With the MTA planning to close three Upper West Side subway stations for up to six months this year, Community Board 7 decided to weigh in at its latest meeting this week. While one local leader — Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal — has called for the MTA to delay the station upgrades so the community can speak out at a hearing, the community board rejected that approach.

CB7 Transportation Committee Co-Chair and MTA board member Andrew Albert presented the MTA plan, which outlines closures for the 110th, 86th, and 72nd street B and C stations beginning April 9, June 4, and May 7, respectively. Albert said that the MTA plans to support the loss of subway service with additional M10 bus service, and announced a tentative community meeting to be held with MTA representatives at the Museum of Natural History sometime next week (date/time to be determined).

The community board had a mixed response to the developments. Some believed it was their role to spread awareness to the community, thinking that there is little they can do to impact MTA’s rollout of the plan. Elizabeth Caputo, a member of both the Transportation and Communications Committees, said, “If we cant change [the plan], the best we can do is to inform,” emphasizing the importance of nailing down the details for the town hall meeting and getting the word out.

Other members argued it was their job to speak out more actively against the MTA process on behalf of the affected community. “This is like lipstick on a pig,” said Ken Coughlin, Co-Chair of the Parks & Environment Committee, addressing concerns with dedicating resources to superficial improvements without any commitment to service improvements. “We should be delaying this until the community can weigh in,” he said. A new resolution was introduced calling on MTA to “put these plans on hold” until they were able to engage further with the neighborhood. The text is below:

“The planned MTA ESI work being done to the BC lines was planned for the Upper West Side with no notice and no public hearings, nor studies about alternative arrangements for impacted passengers. Our subway system is literally falling apart, and spending over $110 million on enhancements that don’t improve underlying service without engaging the public is unacceptable. We call on the MTA to put these plans on hold until there are public hearings, studies about impacts on the community, and a discussion about the best use of this funding.”

That MTA resolution failed, with 10 in favor, 23 against, 2 abstaining, 1 ineligible. In the end, the majority of the board pushed to disseminate information about the closures without directly confronting the MTA on the lack of community consultation.

NEWS | 25 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      “’This is like lipstick on a pig,’ said Ken Coughlin, Co-Chair of the Parks & Environment Committee, addressing concerns with dedicating resources to superficial improvements without any commitment to service improvements. “We should be delaying this until the community can weigh in’”

      The sentiment I made on the WSR Feb 20 post.

      • RK says:

        False equivalency. Maintenance and system improvement projects are not being starved to achieve these projects.

        Last year, when Cuomo pulled his “MTA state of emergency” stunt, Llhota committed $836m
        for “Phase 1” to stabilize subway service over the next year or two. This includes “shovel ready” projects which make sense to do now. Details here:

        There is no evidence that the cost of this station refurbishment is slowing or stopping the necessary stabilization work.

        Modernizing the system is an intractable problem which is going to take years/decades, billions of dollars, and immense political will to achieve.

        If you’re going to get angry at the MTA, read the NYT expose articles and use those to direct your anger.

        • dannyboy says:

          Are you another neighbor who does not feel “the community can weigh in”?

          But that is what “Community” means, neighbor.

          • Zulu says:

            Dannyboy, RK never said anything that would limit or diminish the community’s voice or right to weigh in. He’s just a neighbor with a much better informed opinion than yours, that’s all.

          • RK says:

            You can weigh in, and I can weigh in on your weighing in. As a CPW resident near one of the closed stations, this will impact my family’s life significantly. But I choose to use information and facts to inform my weighed-in opinion. You are welcome to do as you like.
            Or you can attack me rather than my comment. Always a good strategy to deflect attention.


            • dannyboy says:

              RK and zulu,

              The WSR has twice written articles explaining how THE COMMUNITY HAS NOT WEIGHED IN.

              (1) This one reads: “‘“We should be delaying this until the community can weigh in'”, and

              (2) In “MTA ‘Must Halt All Plans’ For Subway Upgrades, Says Assembly Member”
              posted on February 26, 2018 reads:”In a letter sent to MTA Chairman Joe Lhota, she demanded that the agency halt its plans until they present them at a public hearing…

              “Rosenthal says the MTA did not tell her in advance about the station closures in her district.”

              So again, I have to agree with Ken Coughlin, Co-Chair of the Parks & Environment Committee: “’We should be delaying this until the community can weigh in.’”.

    2. Wendy says:

      How much I miss London Transport, of England; the trams in 2 different cities in W. Europe. I miss when : some folk didn’t cuss in the M.T.A>, here; when our English language was predominant. Any M.T.A. of stations, makes life mo’ difficult for handicapped &/or disabled citizens; &, some of our SENIOR Citizens; &, for parent[s]/caregivers…..

      • Lord Of The Slice says:

        The U/G of London is surely amazing.

        but: it shuts down at night and is a zone priced system that costs more (and if we had it anyone that traveled outside Manhattan would pay exorbitantly more).

        so, it’s not all pints of beer and chips.

    3. James says:

      I’m all for this. Our stations are disgusting. NY Times said they looked like Stalingrad after the fall. All 500 should be fixed. Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.

    4. sam says:

      This is such a stupid plan. A refurbishment is certainly a “nice to have” thing, but in this era of complete system breakdowns, these perfectly functional stations in particular certainly don’t need a bunch of cosmetic makeovers at a cost of millions and millions of dollars when we can’t get to work half the time.

      (And then, to do this work and not even consider making them accessible? that’s just icing on the cake. 72nd street is my home station, and there’s an entire stairwell that has been closed off for years – they could use that abandoned space if they need to find the room for an elevator.)

      • RK says:

        As covered in comments under previous articles, adding elevators to stations built a century ago is nontrivial and often impractical or impossible.

        Say they reclaimed that stairway. The elevator would have to stop at both platforms, and _each_ platform would require a concourse large enough for metrocard machines, turnstiles, and a handicapped access gate. An attendant would be required to open the gate on request. On each level.

        • Christina says:

          The 66th St.& B’way subway stations has an elevator and doesn’t have all that you mentioned! What’s your point?

        • Christina says:

          Actually, the only thing one of the 66th St. stations don’t have is an attendant. The other one does. But the area is no bigger than any other area that don’t have an elevator.

      • Jeff French Segall says:

        This is the smartest suggestion I’ve heard yet. Has anyone brought this idea to the attention of the MTA?

        • Zulu says:

          The MTA board meets every month (except for August I believe). Anybody is welcomed to participate and voice their opinions. The next one is on March 19th. If you can’t make them in person they live stream the meetings as well and you can also see archival meetings online.

    5. Casandra says:

      The pictures of the planned improvements
      that were shown in the first article about this
      led me to think that some of the improvments will be there to allow for more paid advertising. Well and good IF it helps the
      MTA to avoid raising the fares.
      And I find that the addition of signs
      displaying the arrival times of the next trains is very comforting, and sometimes helpful.
      But with a rapidly growing population
      of handicapped and elderly, who need more
      accessible subway access, I think more
      emphasis should be placed on providing
      elevator access to the entry level and
      to the platforms.
      I was the primary caretaker for ten
      years when my mother lost the use of her
      legs at age 81. The accessible buses with
      their lifts and platforms was a blessing,
      and the elevator at 72/Broadway made it
      possible to take her to her specialist MD
      down near Chambers Street.
      Improving the reliability and
      accessability of the subway will be
      more expensive than these cosmetic
      improvements, but is rapidly becoming
      more important.

    6. Madd Donna says:

      Spineless just like the Republicans!! No one ever stands up for the people only big money. I’d bet this is just to give their friends in construction more work that will last way more than the few months they’re lying to us about.Does anyone remember how many years it took for the “refurbishing” of the 72nd & Bdwy station?? And by the time it was done, didn’t look that much different or better than before. This is how they waste our precious taxpayer contributions.

    7. West Sider Bill says:

      The City should take a study with the closing of the three subway stops the reduction of crime and homeless. Studies show that crime and homeless is driven here by subways.

      • Jay says:

        Please… list your studies here.

        I’m positive that these studies you mention do not exist anywhere other than in your own mind.

      • Zulu says:

        West Sider Bill,

        I found a study once that concluded that death is directly preceded by life.

    8. ST says:

      Linda is our only representative who looks out for us. Helen is useless.

    9. Marianne Barcellona says:

      Let’s get switches and rails fixed BEFORE WE “ENHANCE” THINGS!!!!!Ridiculous that he MTA is trying to Beautify without correcting the basic structure is beyond belief! This is a major disruption for thousands of people for 6 MONTHS!?! Not acceptable unless it’s for the purpose of making the subways more efficient and safer. Period.

    10. Scott says:

      That want to close the stations so the dozens of workers that inevitably be standing around doing nothing while the “work” is being completed will be less visible to the taxpayers that are footing the bill for their inflated salaries.

    11. EagleEye says:

      Any idea why they can’t do these one at a time so many people could use the open stations? Seems like that would be less disruptive. Do they have to eliminate all local subway traffic to do this?

    12. Margaret says:

      I’m so angry that the MTA is spending a penny on cosmetic enhancements to these stations before adding ADA compliance. If the MTA isn’t ready to do the work of building elevators at the Natural History Museum/Theodore Roosevelt Park corner of 81st and CPW, for example, in my mind the funds should go to an early finish on the 100 stations they agreed to make accessible by 2020. The list they drew up in 1994.

      Yes, I understand that installing an elevator on the block where AMNH is about to construct a large renovation may involve moving utilities.

      I couldn’t be more disappointed in Cuomo and the MTA for treating ADA compliance like something they checked off a list in 1994 and can now ignore. Totally unconscionable and unaware of New Yorkers’ actual rights and needs.