Tuesday, November 17, 2009

`COLUMBIAGATE': Is Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Campus Expansion Project Illegal?--Part 7

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 New York State’s Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] 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. (See below for parts 1 to 6)

According Siegel’s January 21, 2009 petition:

“…Compared to most of the rest of New York City, Manhattanville is not deprived of open space.

“Not only would the Project contribute little open space suitable for West Harlem community use, but the Project, by its height and the shadows it cast, would degrade existing Manhattanville Houses and Shieflin Park open space…

“Additional allegedly `civic and community benefits’ were offered in the Modified General Project Plan [GPP] of which Columbia would be the principal beneficiary. These include 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, for which Columbia will collect market rents, a $500,000 per year subsidy for 24 years for the operation of the Harlem Piers Park, the use of which will likely be more Columbia’s than West Harlem’s, lighting improvements under the Riverside Drive viaduct, or free wireless access throughout its campus…

“What all of these alleged `civic community benefits’ share in common is that they are extraneous to the dominant uses, benefits and purposes of the project…

“The total value of all these `goodies’ amount to no more than $200 million, or approximately 3% of the $6.5 billion projected cost of the Project.

“This package of `goodies’ was not agreed upon by the local community as adequate compensation for the impact of Columbia’s proposed project…”

No comments: