Monday, November 16, 2009

`COLUMBIAGATE': Is Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Campus Expansion Project Illegal--Part 6

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 5)

According Siegel’s January 21, 2009 petition:

“In summary, Allee King Rosen and Flemming [AKRF] provided a study with a methodology effectively tailored to deliver the result that the area was blighted, despite a fundamental absence of background economic conditions associated with blight. AKRF, with the knowledge, participation and approval of Empire State Development Corporation [ESDC], suppressed contrary evidence, avoided evaluation of casual relationships, and, most importantly, avoided any accounting for activity, omissions, and responsibility of the single most important player and causal factor in Manhattanville: Columbia’s activity as a purchaser, owner, and operator of over 75% of the properties in the area.

“…The New York State Supreme Court, Justice Shirley Kornreich presiding, found AKRF to not only be serving an advocacy function on behalf of its client Columbia, but also that AKRF itself had an interest in ESDC’s adoption of Columbia’s General Project Plan [GPP]…ESDC took an appeal to the Appellate Division, First Department.

“On July 15, 2008, this Appellate Division issued its decision…finding AKRF’s relationship with Columbia to be `tangled.’…

“…Of the 37 buildings AKRF…determined to be in poor conditions, at least 16, or 43%, are likely to have crossed that line during the time of Columbia’s ownership or control due to Columbia’s discontinuation of maintenance and its failure to perform repairs…”