More Drilling on Forsyth Street Ahead of Proposed Subway ‘Ventilation Plant’

Posted on: September 11th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Another Davey Drill was spotted on Forsyth Street last week (above Delancey), but as before, it’s not related to the controversial Rivington House condo conversion. But rather, an infrastructure project by the MTA.

Indeed, the transit agency remains committed, despite prior community opposition, to constructing a new subway ventilation plant beneath Forsyth Street. Installing this machinery was deemed “a critical life safety project” since the operating M line equipment was built in 1962 and is “too small and one-directional to be useful anymore.”

However, the MTA struck a chord of controversy in October 2016, as it was revealed that the project could ostensibly take a bite out of M’Finda Kalunga Garden, an historic African American burial ground. (The land served as the City’s second African American burial ground between 1794 and 1853.) Specifically, the area housing the hen coop and turtle pond (southeast corner). There was also growing concern that, while the project is in early stages of development, there is little communication with the community about plans and intent. Indeed, the Sara D. Roosevelt environs was completely caught off guard. Neighbors understood the situation based on rumors, and later confirmed by Community Board 3, but not presented by the MTA itself.

At the time the story first broke, MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz was in damage control, and assured the neighborhood that there will be “absolutely minimal or virtually no impact on: the area presently occupied and used by the Park, the existing Park fencing along the Forsyth Street, the existing Pond located within the Park that has fish and turtles, the entrance to the Park including public access, the Ecology and the Environment.”

Neighbors simultaneously worried that the city agency would keep the project “hidden” from view. And they have a point, as conversations with the community did not happen.

Now, they finally are. The city will officially discuss its plans next week with the Transportation subcommittee of Community Board 3 (September 17).

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