Thursday, November 12, 2009

`COLUMBIAGATE': Is Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhatanville Campus Expansion Project Illegal?--Part 4

In a January 21, 2009 petition to the First Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division, a New York City civil liberties lawyer named Norman Siegel presented the legal case against allowing the Columbia University Administration to move forward on its 17-acre campus expansion project in the West Harlem-Manhattanville neighborhood, just north of West 125th Street.

According Siegel’s January 21, 2009 petition:

“In properties Columbia acquired, Columbia allowed or maintained accumulation of garbage and trash.

“In most buildings it acquired, Columbia refrained from attending to even minor repairs or preventive maintenance, causing existing conditions from water infiltration to become significantly exacerbated. At 635 West 125th Street, for instance, for failure to repair a broken pane in a skylight, sufficient water entered the building as to cause flooring to buckle and ceilings to collapse, such as a building identified as in `fair’ condition in 2006 was in `poor’ condition by 2008. At 623 W. 129th Street, a roof drain was left clogged, causing significant water damage in the building below.

“On the basis of Petitioner’s review of individual building reports, it appears that in 34 out of 51 Columbia owned buildings, or 66.6%, conditions were allowed to deteriorate significantly over that period…”

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