Monday, November 23, 2009

`COLUMBIAGATE: Is Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Campus Expansion Project Illegal?--Part 12

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 11)

According Siegel’s January 21, 2009 petition:

“Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC] acted in bad faith when it hired Columbia’s consultant AKRF to produce a study allegedly to ascertain whether the area was blighted, then collaborated with Columbia’s consultant AKRF to design, or consented to the use of, a methodology that would yield a predetermined conclusion.

“AKRF’s methodology excluded evidence the area was not blighted, that ignored causal links, such as that between Columbia ownership and vacancy, or between building condition and Columbia acquisition, management or control, and inferred causality without basis, such as between building conditions and supposed disinvestments in Manhattanville, even as Columbia itself was aggressively investing in Manhattanville.

“By excluding the ownership and occupancy history and economic context of the Manhattanville industrial area, AKRF, with ESDC’s knowledge and consent, deliberately engaged in an effort to color the evidence, and shape it to fit the pre-determined conclusion that the area was blighted…”

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