The most important piece of the city's West Side redevelopment efforts — the Moynihan Station project — has been derailed. To get it back on track we're going to need a two-step strategy that builds on the strengths of the Port Authority and the public conservancies that have been responsible for development successes like Battery Park City.
Given its experience with transportation infrastructure and its deep pockets, we should let the Port Authority broker a deal and oversee construction.
The Port Authority has $2 billion in available funds to get the deal done now. As Senator Schumer and Governor Paterson have noted, it is the only agency equipped to provide the centralized coordination — and, most importantly, the deep pockets — that the project desperately needs.
However, some critics, including the mayor, have raised very legitimate concerns about the Port Authority. They worry that it is too unaccountable to New Yorkers, and inherently insensitive to the public input and design considerations that are critical to a project of such monumental civic worth.
To solve this potential problem, the design, operation, and maintenance of the new train station should fall to a new State-City public conservancy that is accountable to the public and modeled on the Hudson River Park Trust or the Battery Park City Authority.
Call it the Moynihan Station Conservancy. The ground rules for the new conservancy would establish a process of public hearings and input before major actions took place, it would have a community representation on its board of directors, and its finances would be transparent.
There is precedent for this model in the Port Authority's own history. When the Port Authority constructed the World Trade Center, the soil it excavated was used as landfill to extend the nearby waterfront. But the Port Authority turned over the planning and governance of this land to a newly created public-benefit corporation, the Battery Park City Authority. The Port got the deal done, and the BPCA built, planned, and managed the beautiful community New Yorkers love today.
The Moynihan two-step gives us the best of both worlds. We get the muscle, the coordination, and the money of the Port Authority doing what it does best: brokering the big deal. And the public gets the input and accountability it has every right to demand from the governance of the new public train station.
If we can't meet the concerns that have been raised, the project is likely to collapse completely. And we can't let that happen.
Moynihan Station is an economic development initiative and a transportation infrastructure upgrade rolled into one. It is a project that will generate millions in new tax revenue, create new jobs, and drive development in the West 30s, an area that planners, developers, and even community advocates agree is the most rational place for the Central Business District to expand.
A new Moynihan Station also will help take cars off our congested streets by improving mass transit access to Manhattan. And it will atone for the tragic loss of Penn Station by replacing it with a magnificent gateway worthy of the greatest city in the world.
Will the Moynihan two-step guarantee success? Of course not. But taking either step on its own is a recipe for a failure we can't afford. Let's take our last — and maybe our best — shot at getting this right
Mr. Stringer is the borough president of Manhattan.