Mulry Square fan-plant forum will spin out ideas


BBy Albert Amateau

New York City Transit officials will be on hand at 6:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 24, at St. Vincent’s Hospital for a public forum on the new emergency ventilation plant for the Seventh and Eighth Ave. subway lines proposed for Mulry Square.

The project, with an anticipated four-year construction period from 2009 to 2012, is being proposed for one of six underground sites or one of three aboveground sites at the intersection of Seventh and Greenwich Aves.

“It’s not an official public hearing; it’s a public forum,” said State Senator Tom Duane regarding the Sept. 24 event, noting that the official N.Y.C. Transit scoping meeting for the project was in July. “I called for this meeting because very few people came to the scoping session in July. I must say that N.Y.C. Transit has been very good, agreeing to this forum. While there may be some contentious meetings in the future, I hope we can work well together now,” Duane said.

Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2, which is co-sponsoring the event, to be held on the 10th floor of St. Vincent’s Cronin Pavilion, said, “It shows [N.Y.C. Transit’s] willingness to hear community concerns in the early stages of the project.”

Neighbors hope that as much as possible of the proposed plant will be underground at one of six street locations, given the low-rise character of the Village, Hoylman said. If the plant is built at one of three aboveground locations, it could result in a building between 50 feet and 60 feet tall.

“We also hope that some public space can be created,” Hoylman said.

Villagers are also eager to protect the tiles commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack that people hung on a fence around a triangular parking lot owned by N.Y.C. Transit at 61 Greenwich Ave.

Until recently, a pottery studio and shop, Our Name Is Mud, nearby on Greenwich Ave., was the unofficial guardian of the tile panoply, but the studio moved to a new location earlier this year.

A similar N.Y.C. Transit ventilation plant on W. 13th St. at Sixth Ave., a block away from the Mulry Square site, took nearly five years to construct belowground, instead of the anticipated three, and was not completed until early this year.

Moreover, the site of the Mulry Square project is in virtually the same area where St. Vincent’s Hospital is planning a new medical center up to 20 stories tall on the west side of Seventh Ave. S., with the Rudin Organization expected to redevelop St. Vincent’s property with its existing hospital complex on the east side of the avenue into high-end residential use.

Construction on the St. Vincent’s project is not expected to begin before 2010. N.Y.C. Transit anticipates that the biggest impact on the neighborhood of the Mulry Square project would be in 2009, the first year of construction.