Thursday, August 30, 2007

Parks Breaks Ground On Playground At Morningside Park

Parks Newsroom > Press Release

Press Releases
Thursday, August 30, 2007
No. 115

Parks Breaks Ground On Playground At Morningside Park

NYC Commissioner of Parks Adrian Benepe addresses Crowd
Commissioner Adrian Benepe was today joined by City Council Member Inez Dickens, State Senator Bill Perkins, Community Board 9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, Friends of Morningside Park President Brad Taylor and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger to break ground on renovations to the Morningside Park Playground at West 116th Street.

"Morningside Park is one of the great works of Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and thanks to our cooperation with local elected officials and citizen activists, the Park is experiencing a renaissance," said Commissioner Benepe.

"With generous funds from Council Member Dickens and Senator Perkins, and with the input of community groups such as the Friends of Morningside Park, consulting with Parks Designer Alex Hart, we are renovating the playground at West 116th Street and constructing an accessible ramp. What was once a drab concrete area will be transformed into a vibrant play space surrounded by open lawns and trees."

Manhattan Commissioner of Parks Bill Castro and Brad taylor President of Friends of Morningside Park

Funded by allocations of $1.4 million from Council Member Dickens and $1 million from State Senator Perkins, while he was a member of the City Council, the reconstructed playground will offer universal access to modern play equipment and a restored spray shower. The southern portion of the elevated concrete deck will be completely removed and restored to a state similar to the original Olmsted & Vaux plan, with open lawns and trees.

Council Member Inez Dickens

A ramp is also being constructed at West 116th Street that will provide universal access to this new playground for the disabled and for parents using strollers.

Morningside Park was constructed in the late 19th century, with its name derived from its eastern side where the sun rises each morning. Its design evolved in the 20th century and in the early 1950s, a large concrete slab was imposed on the naturalized lawn between West 116th and 119th Streets. Intended to serve as a platform for a wide variety of recreation needs, it deteriorated over time and became known in the community as "the aircraft carrier."

NYS Senator Bill Perkins

This project removes much of the concrete deck and, by incorporating the play area within a greener environment, it restores Olmsted and Vaux's vision of the park.

Lee Bollinger, President Columbia University, NY State Senator Bill Perkins and Maxine Griffith Executive VP Columbia Unviersity, Chairman Reyes-Monblanc

The reconstruction of the playground was designed by Alex Hart, with a great deal of community input from the Friends of Morningside Park. Work is anticipated to be complete by June 2008.

Chairman Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, CB9M

CONTACT: Warner Johnston / Phil Abramson (212) 360-1311

Noisy neighbors wrong to shout down progress

Errol Louis

Noisy neighbors wrong to shout down progress
Thursday, August 30th 2007, 4:00 AM

The biggest obstacle to Columbia University's planned $7 billion expansion into West Harlem - a problem that could hobble other worthy, ambitious development plans - is New York's cumbersome, outdated land-use procedures, which reward obstructionists, polarize communities and add years of needless, expensive delay to large-scale projects.

New York can do better.

We have to.

Columbia wants to relocate its business school to Harlem and build a research center, dormitories and green space in a 17-acre area north of 125th St. and west of Broadway.

The shortcomings of the current scheme for public input on such plans were on display at a recent Community Board 9 meeting, where a deafening chorus of chants and boos were hurled at Columbia President Lee Bollinger and ex-Mayor David Dinkins as they made brief statements in support of the expansion proposal.

The ruckus, which was videotaped and proudly posted on YouTube, is a great example of how not to plan New York's next quarter-century of development.

In theory, our city's land-use procedures - a slow trip through the local community board, the borough president's office and the City Council, with public hearings and advisory votes at each step along the way - is supposed to give neighborhoods maximum input into development plans.

That's the theory. In practice, putting development projects through the wringer of local politics, with its endless bickering, gives enormous power to those who want to stop a project cold.
The usual obstructionist tactic is what I call the Gulliver Gambit: pretending to support progress, but only if the developer agrees to attach a thousand tiny strings to a big project.

The real motive of the strategy is to tie down a project and run development costs through the roof until a killing blow can be landed in the form of an adverse court ruling or elections that bring new government players into the mix.

We're seeing hints of that in West Harlem, where Community Board 9 says it favors negotiation with Columbia - but only if 10 "nonnegotiable" demands are met first.

Another favorite anti-development strategy is to cry foul over the makeup of whatever group tries to actually strike a bargain.

This week, six board members of the West Harlem Local Development Corp. - a group created more than a year ago for the purpose of negotiating a community-benefits agreement with Columbia - began circulating a letter castigating Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel for convening a meeting of LDC members and local officials to talk about ways to include subsidized housing in the Columbia plan.

Such complaints are a distraction from the real deal-making that needs to take place. In particular, there's a proposal by Harlem businessman Nick Sprayregen that deserves more attention: The deal would swap Sprayregen's businesses on the west side of Broadway for Columbia's property on the east side of the street, where Sprayregen would build up to 1,000 units of subsidized housing.

Whatever the outcome of such bargaining, New York is long overdue for a new set of land-use regulations. Recent innovations, like the creation of formal community-benefits agreements - negotiated with help from neutral, professional arbitrators and urban planners - should be written into law. And technological support, including Web sites with room for public comments on big projects, should be a given.

Above all, we need to do away with holding late-night shout-fests to figure out how to build our city.


NB - Mr. Louis you are WRONG! The biggest obstacle to Columbia's expansion is, believe or not is none other than Columbia University itself.

The University has held literally hundreds of meetings with the community. In every one of those meetings the community expressed their concerns, some ridiculous, some outrageous but most very valid and vital to the residents of Manhattanville and the rest of WestSide Harlem.

What you refer as obstructionism is in fact obstructionism but the creators of the obstructions are not the community but Columbia University's hubris is believing that their plan must be accepted 100% or not at all, "all or nothing" as President Bollinger has said repeatedly.

When you speak of polarization I am a total loss, How can be community of West Harlem be polarized when they are 100% supportive of the CB9M's 197-a Plan which they helped craft through many years and all the community has been asking is for Columbia, who also participated in the crafting of the CB9M 197-a Plan, aligns it's 197-c plan with the designs and desires of the community planning?

The only polarization is with those individuals outside of WestSide Harlem most not even residents of Greater Harlem at all or only recent arrivals who Columbia has aligned in their support.

The display of the community at the Public Hearing was shameful, but when you place in the context of Columbia's outsourcing support from drug rehab individuals from East Harlem and downtown and the presence of hard-hat union members in a rather intimidating pose you understand that the frustrations of the community were expressed, loudly, impolitely and blistering. And Mr. Louis need I remind you of the First Amendment?

However different from Columbia University episode with Jim Gilchrist several months ago, Neither mayor Dinkins nor President Bollinger were physically assaulted and in fact were able to deliver their speeches, which Mr. Gilchrist never did at Columbia.

You say that posting the video of the booing of Mr. Dinkins and Mr. Bollinger is an example of how not to plan New York next quarter of a century development - you again right! However, the lack of responsiveness of Columbia to the community's concerns is the perfect example of how not do any long term planning that will affect a community for the next 30 years.

Obviously you are unaware of the history of abandonment and outright dereliction of West Harlem for many years, an area that only a few years ago Congressman Rangel himself defined as "no man's land". Well this is no longer a "no man's land" it belongs to a community strongly united behind the idea that the CB9M 197-a Plan is the best way for Columbia to grow and be welcomed as the good neighbor Columbia can be.

And finally I do agree that the laws should be updated and the role of Community Board made stronger and that by law Community Board be properly funded to deal with multi-billion dollars development projects and that ULURPs should not be scheduled during the Summer hiatus months. - JRM



August 30, 2007 -- For Columbia President Lee Bollinger, the experience had to have been painful.

Standing before a large, unruly audience, he could hardly get a word in. As the catcalls rendered his remarks near inaudible, the Ivy League prez glared at the crowd.

He was displeased.

But at least he got to speak. And nobody rushed up and shoved him.

Yes, those attending the Aug. 15 Community Board 9 hearing, where Bollinger spoke on behalf of a proposed campus expansion, were angry and rude.

Then again, they see their neighborhood at risk.

But despite the protestors' best efforts, Bollinger completed his speech - and escaped without physical assault.

Not everyone's so lucky.

At least, not on Bollinger's campus, where last fall Minutemen Project founder Jim Gilchrist was invited to speak by the College Republicans - and came to regret it.

Gilchrist had barely begun when a mob of Columbia students and some outsiders rushed the stage, shouting, unfurling huge banners and then, astonishingly, physically attacking the speaker.

Unlike the rancor before Community Board 9, this hecklers' veto worked: The event came to an end virtually before it had begun.

It was a disgrace. But what happened next was even worse.

That is to say, nothing happened.

Nothing that matters, anyway.

Yes, there was an "investigation," lasting the better part of the fall semester.

But, in the end, all the aspiring brown- shirts got from Columbia administrators was a stern "Don't Do It Again some of the junior fascists cited that outcome as personal vindication.
Which, clearly, it was.

Bollinger - ironically, a First Amendment scholar - still has had nothing of consequence to say about the episode.

And Gilchrist, it should not surprise, has yet to be invited back to finish his speech.

It goes without saying that invited speakers in public forums don't deserve to be shouted down.
Not controversial figures like Gilchrist.

And not even university presidents.

But judging from the look on Bollinger's face during his own ordeal - a brief video of the ruckus is available here - it's possible he gets it now.
But, alas, not probable.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Home > Orientation 2007

Welcome to the Neighborhood
By Erin Durkin
Issue date: 8/27/07 Section: Orientation 2007

There's more to Morningside Heights and West Harlem than Columbia's campus. Here are a few of the stories making news beyond the gates.Manhattanville ExpansionSince 2003, Columbia has been planning to build 17-acre campus in a section of West Harlem known as Manhattanville.Columbia says it is in dire need of the space. Its plans for the area include a neuroscience center and a new home for the business school. The University also says the plan will create jobs and revitalize a depressed area.

But the expansion has generated fierce opposition from some in the neighborhood, who say that, in addition to displacing all the homes and businesses in the expansion zone-from 125th to 133rd streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue-it will drive up rents and jeopardize affordable housing for miles around. An environmental impact study released this summer estimated that, by increasing rents, the plan could indirectly displace 3,293 people in the area immediately surrounding the expansion zone.

Columbia insists on owning all the property in the expansion footprint, and it already owns most of it. In one of the most controversial aspects of the plan, the state may use the power of eminent domain to forcibly acquire property from several business owners who have refused to sell and turn it over to Columbia. The state is currently conducting a study to determine if the area is underused or "blighted," a designation necessary for the use of eminent domain.

The local Community Board 9 has offered its own plan, known as 197-a, which would rule out eminent domain and allow manufacturing to continue in the area.

The expansion plan entered the public review process this summer. CB9 voted in August to reject the plan, but its vote is non-binding. In the coming months, the City Council will decide whether to allow Columbia to go forward.

Columbia is also negotiating a community benefits agreement with a board composed of local representatives, although divisions within the board may make it difficult to reach a consensus.

Affordable HousingIn recent years, affordable housing has become increasingly scarce in Morningside Heights and West Harlem. As the area becomes more desirable to new residents-a phenomenon called revitalization or gentrification, depending on whom you ask-rising prices make it difficult for long-time Harlem residents to pay the rent.

Dozens have been evicted from 3333 Broadway, the hulking complex on the corner of 133rd Street and Broadway, since the landlord opted out of the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program in 2005, prompting dramatic increases in rents. The sale of the building to a developer early this summer has only increased tenants' uncertainty about their futures.

Elsewhere in West Harlem, tenants have accused a large landlord, the Pinnacle Group, of using intimidation and illegal evictions to get rent-regulated tenants out of their apartments so that they can be rented for the market price-charges that Pinnacle denies. Backed by elected officials, tenants this summer filed a lawsuit against Pinnacle, charging that its heavy-handed tactics amounted to racketeering.

Early this year, the city reopened the waiting list for section 8 housing vouchers for the first time in 12 years, but demand for the vouchers far exceeds the supply.

Labor DisputesOver the past year, many area establishments have faced accusations of paying their workers illegally low wages and forcing them to work in substandard conditions.

Last year, Spectator reported that some former employees of Milano Market accused the store of paying undocumented Mexican workers about $3.30 an hour and threatening them with deportation if they reported the conditions. Milano denied the charges.

Since then, several local restaurants have been accused of paying even lower wages. The minimum wage in New York State is $7.15.Employees filed a lawsuit against Ollie's-the Chinese food chain-in March, alleging that they worked 60-hour weeks for $1.40 an hour. They said they were fed barely edible scraps for their on-the-job meals. Ollie's managers said workers made at least minimum wage.

Further downtown, Saigon Grill has faced pickets from locked-out deliverymen and their supporters, who said that they were paid $1.60 an hour, had their tips confiscated, and were fined for offenses like taking sick days and slamming doors.

Local eateries Tomo Sushi and Columbia Cottage have also faced boycotts over allegations that they contract for supplies with a noted labor violator.

Latino Representation

The population of Community District 9, which stretches from 110th to 155th streets, is 43 percent Latino. Yet on the local community board that represents the area, only five of 50 members identify as Latino.To remedy that situation, some Latino CB9 members have formed a caucus to conduct outreach to Latino residents in the neighborhood and to encourage them to apply to the board.

Heated discussions have erupted over the issue at CB9 meetings, and it prompted a confrontation last spring between members of the Mirabal Sisters, an advocacy group, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who appoints community board members.

The caucus has experienced a backlash from some board members, who say its efforts are divisive and that the board is not to blame if Latinos choose not to apply.

2007/08/27/Orientation2007/Welcome.To.The. Neighborhood-2936854.shtml

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spain’s Quiet Corner

Spain’s Quiet Corner

Matias Costa for The New York Times
Ourense is known for its bridges. This one dates back to the Roman era but has been rebuilt over the centuries.

Published: August 26, 2007
FOR over 50 years all this was in ruins,” said José Luis Cuerda, hands spread, nodding toward a mountainside covered with terraced rows of young winding vines and the massive stone home behind us, his adopted Galician sliver of Spain. Stretched out before him now, spilling from lush terraces, were fledgling plants: albariño, treixadura, godello, torrontés, loureira. These are grape varietals native to the Ribeiro, a region of broad valleys near Ourense, the capital of the province of the same name.


In September, swollen balloons of green grapes will be harvested by hand, in frenzied moments over three or four days. These will create the 2007 vintage — Year 3 — of Mr. Cuerda’s tasty vino blanco, which he calls Sanclodio, named for the monks that cultivated this land for centuries and their former monastery down the road, San Clodio.

But it was late spring, and all was quiet; the harvest seemed far away, and the closest neighbor looked cartoonishly small on her terrace. A typically Galician rainstorm — short, strong and blustery — had just blown through, leaving moisture dripping from stones hewn centuries ago and from the gray wires hoisting the neat rows of grapevines. The ballroom-sized terrace of Mr. Cuerda’s Galician home/office/winery jutted out from the 15th-century house, a bottle of Sanclodio chilled in the modern kitchen and a large bowl of a local cheese was warming to room temperature.

In Spain, Mr. Cuerda is known for films — he is a director, screenwriter and producer — not wine. The label is too young for fame. And yes, he likes his food, evidenced by his Santa Claus-like belly. But while he brushes off any comparison to Francis Ford Coppola — that other director-winemaker, on the other side of the world — he speaks of a similar passion for both of his creative endeavors: “I try to do cinema seriously, and I do this seriously.”

Mr. Cuerda has owned this place since just after his 1999 movie “La Lengua de las Mariposas” (“Butterfly’s Tongue”), released as “Butterfly” in the United States, won a Goya, the Spanish equivalent to an Oscar, for best adapted screenplay in 2000. “Butterfly” was shot about 20 miles from Leiro, the town where the Sanclodio vineyards are situated, some 20 miles west of Ourense. During the filming, Mr. Cuerda noticed the many half-destroyed houses from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries scattered across the countryside.

“There are many parts of Galicia that have houses in ruins, and they are gorgeous sites,” he said. Many were for sale, and Mr. Cuerda eventually bought a ruined bodega (or adega, as local wine-growing estates are called in the Galician language, Gallego), thus adding “winemaker” to his résumé. He has since become a committed one-man cheering section for the least-well-known part of Galicia.

WHEN Americans think of Galicia — if they think of it at all — it is almost always because of Santiago de Compostela, the pilgrimage city on the northern Atlantic Coast. Tucked in the northwest corner of Spain, the rest of Galicia is thinly populated and known less for its lusciously verdant scenery than for its lack of employment; its poverty was especially dire in the middle of the last century. Over hundreds of years, tens of thousands of Galicians left Spain, starting over in Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, the United States, abandoning pazos (country manor houses) and fincas (rural farms), leaving whole villages ghost towns.

For several days in late April, my partner, Ian, and I explored these under-the-radar places, focusing especially on the Ribeiro — a region on the cusp of opening up to tourists, and full of wine, antiquity and hospitality — with Mr. Cuerda.

Mr. Cuerda is a round man, tall but also wide, with a head of white hair that rings a bald pate and a C. Everett Koop white fringe of a beard. (His appearance, much as it may annoy him to say it, only adds to the impression of his connection to that other director in Napa Valley.) He can be serious, especially when talking about the Franco era, a presence in many of his films.
Wine is bottled time,” he mused at one point. “It is a whole year encapsulated in a bottle. And that has something similar to the cinema, which is also a simulation of bottled time.”

But then a giggle escapes him; he doesn’t take himself terribly seriously. He is like the children he often includes in his films: he can be silly.

Grapes have been cultivated in the Ribeiro since Roman times. But in the 19th century, a vine plague nearly wiped out the industry, and desperate growers began importing grapes from other regions, like palomino from Jerez, which grew quickly but produced great quantities of low-quality wine. Galician harvests became associated with cheap, acidic table wine, drunk in tiny tumblers in sooty bars.

Mr. Cuerda, who has studied the history of the region for several years, has begun actively promoting a new palate for a more sophisticated Galician white. His oenological team researched the region, ripped out all the old plants that were growing wild on his land and planted only indigenous grapes.

The model was that of a handful of nearby bodegas, like Viña Mein, a 19-year-old vineyard up the road from the 12th-century Monasterio San Clodio (now a hotel). On the banks of the Avia River, Viña Mein has been one of the leaders in the effort to reinvent Galician wines by taking what wine growers in Europe call a New World approach to creating rich, fruit-forward, easy drinking whites, planting only native vines — like savory white-wine grapes, primarily treixadura, godello and albariño.

The day we explored the Sanclodio bodega — tasting samples from the harvests of 2006 and 2005 — Mr. Cuerda chastised us for never having visited Galicia. To remedy that, the director promised to fetch us in the morning from the Hotel Monumento Monasterio de San Clodio, the transformed monastery. (We had rented rooms there thinking they were connected to the eponymously named vineyard. They were — albeit centuries ago.)

To understand Galicia, Mr. Cuerda asserted the next morning from the driver’s seat of his slate-blue PT Cruiser, you have to start at the beginning. We were heading northwest on a one-lane country road to San Ciprián de Las, a castro, Iron Age ruins that were inhabited through the Roman era. There are castros scattered throughout Ribeiro, high up on the mountainsides, eerie and beautiful archeological sites.

As we drove, every five or eight minutes, a tiny 12th- or 13th-century — or sometimes 16th-, 17th- or 18th-century — church appeared around a corner, darkened with age, but bells in good order. In each yard there was something that looked like a coffin on stilts. They were 18th-century granaries called horreos, high above ground to prevent humidity and mold, with slats of wood spaced slightly apart to promote air circulation. Many are still in use.

At San Ciprián de Las, we parked and walked. Under construction nearby is a research center that will highlight these ancient ruins, Mr. Cuerda said, but that morning we were alone. This castro was an entire city — it was probably Celtic, explained Mr. Cuerda — with a well-preserved Roman cobblestone road running up the center. There are circles and squares where each house stood, stones perched on stones, held together only by pressure; the fireplaces are still blackened from ancient cooking fires.

We hiked to the top of the hill. On the other side there were still more circles — home-foundations more than 2,000 years old. Church bells chimed in the distance.
“They are announcing a death in the town,” Mr. Cuerda said. “The sound is different for a death.”

BUT nothing could have felt less dead than the green hillside, the distant vineyards and the River Miño far below. Along the Miño are natural thermal sulfur baths, some easy to get to, some incorporated into hotels, some that require hiking.

Mr. Cuerda promised to take us to one — but first he felt we should see Ourense, where he is shooting his next film. The city has a sloping and impressive Plaza Mayor, a medieval cathedral and the feel of a city that most tourists never see: the main squares and restaurants are filled with locals and businessmen rather than travelers.

It is known for its bridges that encompass the history of the city, from the Roman era to the modern. The winding streets are medieval, narrow, mysterious — perfect for Mr. Cuerda’s film, to be set in 1940, the year after Franco came to full power. We sat for lunch at Restaurant San Miguel in the center of town. With a flourish, the waiter brought over a bottle of Sanclodio.
Mr. Cuerda took my notebook and wrote in Spanish: “The most important restaurant in the city of Ourense is San Miguel. The most important restaurant in the province is A Rexidora, in Bentraces. It has one Michelin star.”

He listed several more restaurants, all with lyrical names — O Roupeiro, O Barazal, Galileo, O Mosteiro (next to the Hotel Monumento Monasterio de San Clodio). Each restaurant, not incidentally, now carries Sanclodio wines.

Ourense feels like a city, but when you leave, the urban landscape disappears in minutes. “It’s the same as the 15th century!” exclaimed Mr. Cuerda, referring to the view.

We drove along rural routes, whipping through towns so small that they are mere dots on maps — towns with names like Pazos de Arenteiro, Osebe, Boborás and Carballiño. Nearly every home we passed had its own garden of grapes on gnarled vines producing only enough for individual home consumption.

Galicians — women in faded housedresses, weathered-looking men — stared at the car, bemused. Mr. Cuerda has a finca near Carballiño, a place to work and relax, and we stopped there.

“I prefer working here to Madrid,” he said. “It is tranquil here. Quieter.”

On the shelf was a Spanish script for the 2001 film “The Others,” which he co-produced. (It was the success of “The Others,” starring Nicole Kidman, that gave him seed money for the bodega.) But it’s hardly all work there — his office is filled with histories of Ourense; dictionaries of medieval Spanish and Gallego; a book on the Monasterio de Oseira, known as the Galician Escorial.

Mr. Cuerda decided we must hear the monks sing Gregorian chants at Oseira, where Sunday Mass is open to the public. Then we would understand the beauty and simplicity of the region, the wildness, the sheer distances, the isolation of centuries past.

The next morning, we drove through Cea — a town known for its pan de Cea, a wonderful rustic bread. A couple of miles out of town, the Oseira monastery looms from behind a bend. This is what a monastery is supposed to feel like — stark, isolated and ethereal.

The Sunday we visited, a young monk was professing his vows to the Cistercian order — unusual these days — and the church was packed. Monks sang Gregorian chants, the novice’s biological siblings took digital pictures.

Mr. Cuerda whispered to me throughout the service: “Look at the late Baroque touches,” he said, pointing at frescoes and painted wood. “And the 13th-century statues.”

At the end of the service, Francisco José Fraga Civeira stopped us. Only 35, he is the mayor of a nearby town, Piñor, and a friend of Mr. Cuerda’s. Mr. Fraga Civeira offered to give us a tour of the monastery.

Oseira was built from the 12th to the 18th centuries but abandoned from 1835 until 1929. Today, monks live there again — and pilgrims can rent rooms there. “Graham Greene stayed here!” more than one monk told us.

There is a musty but impressive library that holds the archives of the region as well as poorly preserved books dating back centuries. The monastery is known for its architectural peculiarities, like 15th-century palm-shaped pillars of carved granite, and an ancient water conducting system.

“In the time of Franco, it was briefly a prison,” Mr. Fraga Civeira said, “and parents would say to kids, ‘If you’re bad, you’ll go to Oseira!’ ”

As if on cue, we were locked in. Having slipped off the main tour meant that no one was aware we were still there. It took us 20 minutes to find a monk to let us out.

As promised, after the tour, Mr. Cuerda took us on to the thermal baths, but there was only time for lunch. As we asked for the check, the waiter ran over and in a burst of energy said: “Please! Could you write a note to my wife, Pilar? She loves your work!”

Mr. Cuerda obliged, cheerfully.

“I make cinema,” he’d said that first day. “I make wine, and maybe one person likes the cinema and the other person likes the wine. I diversify risks.”

Galician white wines — including those from the Ribeiro (, where the Spanish film director and producer José Luis Cuerda has his vineyards (e-mail: — are developing an international market.

With the region’s increasing visibility, more accommodations are opening up; many are in previously abandoned rural manor homes that have been rehabilitated into magnificent lodging houses.

One-hour flights from Madrid to Vigo (on Iberia) and Santiago de Compostela (Iberia or Vueling) can be as low as 50 euros round trip. Both cities are about an hour’s drive from the Ribeiro, while Madrid is about five hours.

An Internet search for round-trip flights from New York to Madrid in mid-September found fares starting at $592, on Delta.

We anchored our trip by sleeping in historic places: from the former Monasterio de San Clodio, which lends its name to Mr. Cuerda’s wines, to the country estates called pazos, many of them former homes of parish priests, now loosely linked in a web of historic inns called Pazos de Galicia (

If you are driving from Madrid, the seven-room Pazo de Bentraces (34-988-38-33-81, is a good first stop. The rooms in this 15th-century manor home in the tiny town of Bentraces, south of Ourense, are all slightly different — antique four-poster beds and quilts are matched with new white marble bathrooms. They start at 104 euros a night, about $145 at $1.38 to the euro. But it is the pazo’s spacious Provençal-inspired country kitchen that is most impressive.

Bentraces also has the Ourense province’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, A Rexidora (34-988-383-078, Dinner for two with wine, about 100 euros.

The Hotel Monumento Monasterio de San Clodio (Plaza San Clodio s/n; 34-988-485-601; is a foreboding marvel. Built in the 12th century, it was for hundreds of years home for Cistercian monks who grew grapes for wine on the hillside where Mr. Cuerda now does the same. When they renovated it in 1999, San Clodio’s owners made little effort to soften the severity of its beauty. Despite its sunny courtyards, its excellent restaurant and a new pool, San Clodio feels haunted. It has 25 rooms, with doubles from 85 euros.

Our first glimpse of warm Galician hospitality came at the Hotel Doña Blanca (Plaza San Clodio s/n; 34-988-485-688;, a six-room 17th-century home just outside the monastery walls. Owned by Javier Alén, the wine grower who owns and runs Bodega Viña Mein (and another small rural hotel, Viña Mein, just down the road ; 34-988-488-400 or 34-617-326-248), Doña Blanca was renovated in 2003. The communal spaces are bright and airy, with high ceilings and windows that overlook a small garden and a pool. Most stunning is a small indoor pool, complete with redwood floors and a full Turkish bath. Rooms start at 85 euros, with breakfast.

Across the plaza, Restaurant O Mosteiro (Plaza Eladio Rodriguez 4; 34-988-48-87-27) offers traditional fish-based Galician fare in a similarly rehabilitated antique space. Dinner for two, about 50 euros.

We visited the Monasterio de Oseira, north of Cea, where the monks make 14 rooms available for pilgrims or those on religious retreats for 30 euros a night (four nights minimum), including three meals (34-988-282-004 or e-mail A tour of the grounds costs 2 euros.

In Rias Biaxas, we found the inviting Rectoral de Cobres (San Adrián de Cobres, Vilaboa; 34-986-673-810; Constructed in 1729, it was brought back to life in recent years by Randi Hanssen, a Norwegian interior designer, and Juan Carlos Madriñán, her musician husband. Each room is brushed with subtle blues and grays that blend in with the sea, which is visible through French doors in all but one room. Doubles start at 80 euros with breakfast.

In nearby Arcade, we found Restaurante Arcadia (Avenida Castelao, 25; 34-986-700-037), where we gorged on oysters, fresh local fish and endless fresh bread (75 euros for dinner for two).

SARAH WILDMAN writes regularly about Europe for the Travel section.

Max Roach Is Remembered for Music and More

Max Roach Is Remembered for Music and More

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
Colleagues of Mr. Roach’s performing.

Published: August 25, 2007

Max Roach was remembered at his funeral not just as a brilliant drummer who helped bring about radical changes in American music, but also as a committed activist who worked hard to bring about radical changes in American society.

Skip to next paragraph

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

Bill Cosby at Max Roach’s funeral.

Mr. Roach “used his music as an instrument of our struggle,” the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III of Abyssinian Baptist Church said in eulogizing Mr. Roach, who died on Aug. 16 at the age of 83. Mr. Roach’s funeral, held yesterday morning at Riverside Church in Morningside Heights, drew a capacity crowd of friends, admirers and fellow musicians.

Former President Bill Clinton, in a statement read by Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, praised Mr. Roach as “one of the first jazz musicians to align his craft with the goals of the civil rights movement.”

But Mr. Roach’s musical contributions were not neglected. The writer Amiri Baraka, while noting that the music Mr. Roach and the singer Abbey Lincoln made in the 1960s was “part of the liberation movement,” also read a poem that included a long list of musicians who owed Mr. Roach an artistic debt. Bill Cosby said that he owed Mr. Roach a different kind of debt — and that Mr. Roach had owed him one, too.

“Why I became a comedian is because of Max Roach,” he said. “I wanted to be a drummer.”
As a young jazz fan in Philadelphia, Mr. Cosby explained, he tried to teach himself to play drums by copying records and watching the great jazz drummers in action. But when he first saw Mr. Roach, he said, he was awed by his virtuosity and realized that “there were no tricks, nothing I could take.”

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Cosby told the crowd, he decided that the rudimentary drum kit for which he had paid $75 was not for him. And, he added, when he finally met Mr. Roach some years later, the first thing he said to him was, “You owe me $75.”

As befits a memorial for a man recognized as one of the architects of modern jazz, music played an important part in the service. The vocalist Cassandra Wilson, the pianists Randy Weston and Billy Taylor, and the saxophonist Jimmy Heath were among those who performed.

Mr. Heath performed an unaccompanied improvisation on a song whose title encapsulated what many of the speakers said about Mr. Roach: “There Will Never Be Another You.”

More Articles in Arts »


Friends, Family Remember Jazz Great Max Roach

August 24, 2007

Friends, family and fans gathered Friday morning to say goodbye to the legendary drummer who helped define the sound of bebop jazz.

His funeral service at Riverside Church in Morningside Heights included music, memories, praise, and poetry.

Mourners from all walks of life came to pay tribute, including poets Maya Angelou and Sonya Sanchez and politicians Congressman Charles Rangel and Lieutenant Governor David Patterson.

Mourners said Roach’s contribution to jazz cannot be overstated.

"He's my friend and his history and what he leaves is very, very important in terms of the music, the bebop, the progressive end of it,” said actor/comedian Bill Cosby. “It was class and intelligent and academic but within your reach 'cause he was a teacher.”

“He was actually a great man and he was a true genius, but a great one,” said music critic Stanley Crouch.

“I was lucky to be his friend and I was lucky to know a hero. Max Roach was the greatest,” said jazz expert Phil Schaap. “You know, we don't have that many old-time jazz masters – certainly not from the age of the prophets. But I don't even know how many great Americans we have and we lost one."

Reverend James Forbes led the service and Reverend Calvin Butts gave the eulogy. His five children spoke, as well. The funeral also featured a video presentation showing Roach playing in Israel. In it he says being called "a legend" means you're getting old.

Roach was born in North Carolina in 1924, but spent most of his life in Brooklyn. He got his first big break when he was just 16 years old, and went on to work with greats like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Roach died last Thursday at the age of 83 from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where other jazz royalty like Duke Ellington and Miles Davis were also laid to rest.

- Stephanie Simon

Tango in Central Park

Tango in Central Park
For more than a decade, tango in Central Park has been the emblem of one of the city's most obsessed subcultures.
Cheek to Cheek

Summer Rituals It Takes Two

Tangoing Cheek to Cheek for 3 Minutes in the Park

Published: August 25, 2007

It was a sultry 6 p.m. in Central Park, and over by the 1872 Shakespeare statue at Literary Walk, melancholy rhythms spilled from two speakers propped up on park benches.

Christian Hansen for the New York Times
Dancing the tango by the Shakespeare
statue at Literary Walk in Central Park.
Summer Rituals

This is one in a weekly series, running through Labor Day weekend, on what makes summer, summer, for people in and around New York.


Enlarge This Image
Christian Hansen for The New York Times
Couples continued to tango as night fell.

Courtenay Nugent rose. He asked Fran Beaumont to dance. There they were: the two it took to tango.

They moved sensually across the asphalt pavers, counterclockwise around the monument, under a coquettish breeze and what was to become a limitless starry sky and an oblong moon. As dozens of onlookers watched over the next three hours, about 50 couples swayed to the steps of the dance that has been called a three-minute love affair.

VideoMore Video »

“I’m first to get up because I’m not shy,” said Mr. Nugent, 59, a translator and teacher who lives in St. Albans, Queens.

For more than a decade, free tango in Central Park, Saturdays from June through September, has been the emblem of one of the city’s most fermenting — make that obsessed — subcultures. Acolytes ritually gather in a wholly accessible yet somehow intimate domain surrounding the Bard, who, at that hour, was still dappled in sunlight, and seemingly amused.

As she danced, Ms. Beaumont flourished lipstick and nail polish of Tango Red. Her black lace gloves matched her tight black chemise with its see-through sleeves, and her floral red and black skirt was slit high to accommodate the most vertiginous dips, spins, kicks and drops. Her feet, of course, were wrapped in strappy black tango shoes.

By 6:15, two other couples had joined in. The disc jockey, Hernan Brizuela, 33, was playing sets, or tandas, of Argentine tangos: fast, medium, then slow.

“What happens on the tango floor stays on the tango floor,” said William Lawrence Parker III, 50, who is known as Trey and has been one of two organizers of the Central Park dance practically since it began.

Rick Castro, 48, the other longtime organizer, explained that it takes one tango “to meet your partner, the second to get used to your partner, and the third to just enjoy.”

Mr. Castro estimated that 75 percent of the dancers — young or old, skilled or neophyte — “are non-couples.” Even the regulars “don’t normally see each other during the week,” he added, “but I guess you could call them a family, scattered though it is.”

The makeshift dance floor in the park is one facet of a teeming city sub-universe: There are dozens of Argentine tango milongas, or gatherings, in New York, most of them charging a modest fee, and many of them listed on a Web site,

“I go every night,” said Natalie Rogers, a psychotherapist in Manhattan who said she prescribes tango to some of her patients struggling with performance anxiety. “I tell women that it’s a great way to meet men.”

Mr. Castro said the Central Park tango has produced many relationships and occasionally the syncopation of wedding bells, though most people just dance with tango friends or even strangers.

Lucille Krasne, a Manhattan artist recognized by everyone as the founding mother of Central Park tango, said it all began in the summer of 1995, when she and a handful of dancers took a boom box into Central Park at the Bethesda Fountain. “I called it Hit and Run Tango, because we had no permit and if the police came we’d run,” she recalled.

The next summer, the dance became more regularized. “The tourists loved us, the strollers loved us and the dogs loved us,” Ms. Krasne said.

Mr. Parker chimed in, “It became Hit and Stay Tango.”

Mr. Castro said the group was driven from the fountain by a Saturday night drumming ensemble that drowned out the tango vibe, so the dancers segued south to Shakespeare about seven years ago. Payment for the speakers, D.J. and park permits is fronted by Mr. Parker and Mr. Castro, who pass the hat to defer expenses.

Thanks to word of mouth and the site online, the weekly event has prospered, and even spread, to the South Street Seaport, where a free Sunday milonga has been flourishing since 1999, Mr. Castro said.

Through the years, joggers, cyclists and carriage passengers have been

Friday, August 24, 2007

West Harlem's Not For Sale

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance
Protecting Neighborhood Business For Over 20 Years
Friday, August 24, 2007

West Harlem's Not For Sale

In yesterday's El Diario CB9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc lashes out against the use of eminent domain by Columbia in the West Harlem neighborhood. In particular, he takes issue with the university's job claims, and points out that the 6,000 new-mostly high tech- jobs Columbia claims it will generate, will replace 1,600 factory and mechanics jobs that are being done by a predominately Hispanic work force.

In addition, as we have been relentlessly pointing out, gentrification has already hit this area hard. Apartments that were going for for as little as $300/month are now being rented for $1800/month. Once the expansion takes hold, it will be tough for anyone of modest means to live in or around the university's hallowed ground.

Which is why we have been hitting hard on the affordable housing issue-and Columbia's failure to devise any meaningful housing plan; but also for the way in which it is relocating low-income tenants. As we have said before, unlike Columbia, Atlantic Yards developed an extensive housing program and the university is going to have to step up and not wait for the LDC to bail them on this key issue.

Which brings us to a post that was done by the Wonkster yesterday on the CB 9 vote. Calling the CB9 vote a "bump in the road," and referring to Curb's description of the vote as "meaningless,"the web site went on to point out that Richard Lipsky's representing the area's largest property owner and according to the indefatigable Norman Oder, is making arguments that he supposedly refuted when he was representing FCRC on the Atlantic Yards controversy.

First, it would have been nice if Wonkster had linked to us if it was going to link to Oder's exhaustive deconstruction of our arguments. But that being said, we are flattered by the almost hermeneutic-like attention Oder pays to our positions on the topics of eminent domain and the land-use process. He has an almost Talmudic fascination for what he sees as our inconsistencies in these areas.

And in some ways he's right since politics is so often a case of, "whose ox is being gored." But in another important way he's off the mark. One's view of process is colored by, in this case, first principles. In any land use matter first principles emanate from your view of the merits of the project itself. As we have often said, we have no absolute position on eminent domain, but we have pointed out that the rights of property owners need to have a greater degree of protection than the currently have under NYS law.

Which gets us to our rationale for working on the Atlantic Yards project. Our attraction to the development was initially spurred by our past academic interest in the interface of sports, politics and society. As a result of this interest we begin to see how the Nets coming to Brooklyn could have a significant benefit to the amateur sports programs of the borough. This lead to our development of the Brooklyn Sports Alliance, the only lobbying focus that we had during the entire land use battle. For a fuller account of our disagreements with the AY critics, you can go to here, and here, and here. Suffice it to say, that we looking forward to the collaboration of the BSA and the Brooklyn Nets, a partnership that will do great things for the kids of Brooklyn.

One final observation, We don't know Norman Oder but as far as we can see the AY projects is the only one of its kind that he has ever been involved in; and there's no question that he has devoted a great deal of exhaustive energy and talent to the effort. However, it simply can't stand in comparison to our own body of work in his area, grass roots lobbying that goes back for twenty seven years in NYC.

In that period of time we have defeated three Wal-Mart projects, a BJ's Warehouse Club development, three Costcos and seven separate shopping center projects; not to mention keeping Anheuser Busch at bay on an anti-trust crusade or the better part of a decade. In all of these efforts we have defended the rights of communities and small businesses. Once the AY critics have a body of work like this they will be in a better position to criticize our work.

Let's not forget, that absent the work we've done over this period of time, there would have been no other lobbyist defending the rights of less well-heeled interests. So. while we remain flattered by Oder's meticulous attention to all of the nuances of our arguments, we are unmoved by the criticism. As Pete Seeger said in one of his songs; "How do I know my youth is all spent, my get-up-and-go has got up and went, but in spite of it all I'm able to grin, to think of the places my get up has been."

# posted by Neighborhood Retail Alliance @ 7:36 AM


My! Polish up your own halo, why don't you?

Norman Oder, who is being considered for international awards for his coverage of the Atlantic Yards boondoggle, has never received one red cent for his extraordinary work. You, on the other hand, are a gun for hire who has recently taken to whining about being underpaid.

If your only paid involvement in Atlantic Yards was this magnanimous exercise in social redemption called the Brooklyn Sports Alliance (don't use "BSA" unless you want to get sued by the Boy Scouts, FYI..) then you certainly turned into a vitriolic attack dog for next to nothing! Ain't that a comment on the real you!

You're a hypocrite, textbook. And quite full of yourself. You know, if you're reduced to trotting out your own resume because no one else will say anything nice about you anymore, you may want to consider your recent actions.

Sorry, kids, it was never about you. It was about Shillsky's legacy. And maybe the rent.

Forced to be Anonymous 08.24.07 - 10:27 am #

My interest in Atlantic Yards stems from my profession as a journalist and, initially, my frustration with the way the New York Times had covered the issue. That led to media criticism, analysis, and reportage. Now I've tried to look at other major development controversies such as the Columbia expansion and the New Domino plan in Williamsburg.

Whether or not I have been involved in other projects isn't the issue; the question is whether my analysis is sound. That's like blaming Atlantic Yards critics for "not doing anything" to develop the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard. Only recently has the price of land risen enough to make a platform for building feasible. The city, as city planning officials acknowledge, never got around to urging the MTA to market the newly valuable land and put it out for bid. And Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC 2030, as I've reported, sets out a very different process for building over railyards, one involving much more community consultation.

Similarly, I don't think Lipsky's track record, however impressive, and his arguments about amateur sports, the arena, and affordable housing, can get around some of the contradictions I explored in my post.

But I appreciate his response and will post a link to it on my blog.

Btw, I do get paid by the Brooklyn Downtown Star for occasional articles; the rate is about 2 cents a word.

Norman Oder Homepage 08.24.07 - 10:55 am #

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Harlem Says No

New York

Harlem Says No
Special to the AmNews
Originally posted 8/23/2007

s expected, on Monday evening, Community Board 9 overwhelmingly rejected
Columbia University’s plan by a vote of 32 to one, including a “no” vote from Jordi
Reyes-Montblanc, the board’s chair, who planned to abstain. The vote supports the
board’s land use committee that opposed the plan 17 to one early last week.

If the sound of the protestors and their passionate testimonials last Thursday at a
public hearing are a barometer, then Columbia University’s plan to develop 17 acres
of land in West Harlem is in serious trouble.

But officials at Columbia, including its president, Lee Bollinger, and former Mayor
David Dinkins, both of whom were loudly booed by a capacity crowd at the
Manhattanville Community Center, didn’t need to host a meeting with the community
residents to gauge their feelings. That rejection has been a constant one ever since
the university made its purposes known.

At the crux of the university’s proposal is the acquisition of a large chunk of
Manhattanville from 125th Street to 133rd Street, mainly west of Broadway, to be the
site of biotech research labs, classrooms, residences and other university-related

The signs from the noisy protestors said it all: “West Harlem is not for sale!” “Down
with Eminent Domain!”

Eminent domain gives the government legal power to take private property for public

And it was this rejection that was voiced by speaker after speaker who marched to
the microphone to praise Bollinger’s stance supporting affirmative action when he
was the president of the University of Michigan, but denouncing his plan that several
characterized as “land grabs.”

“This is nothing but an invasion, a stealing of the land from the people,” said the Rev.
James Manning.

Of course, Bollinger sees the situation from another vantage point. The plan, he said,
“would strengthen links with our neighbors in Upper Manhattan. World-class
academic research and teaching in Manhattanville would add to the intellectual
capital that helps make New York City an international center of business, finance,
and ideas and innovation.”

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, who lives in Hamilton Heights and is the chair of Community
Board 9, refused to speak until his supporters quieted, and then rather than wasting
time discussing the university’s plan, offered one that had been agreed on by
hundreds of community residents. “The threat of eminent domain must be removed,”
he said. His plan, 197-a, was a reflection of the community, he continued. And the
crowd cheered when he announced that the plan had been discussed and developed
by residents of the community.

Reyes-Montblanc appeared somewhat conciliatory, suggesting a need for neither
side to be inflexible, that there might yet be some bargaining room. Both the board
and the university are in agreement, it seems, on the designated geographic area
and the retail plans, but beyond these points, there are many differences.

Whenever a speaker favored the plan, such as Professor Lionel McIntyre, a highly
respected urban planner at Columbia University, the protestors’ screams made his
words inaudible. Their cry of rejection even made it difficult for Dinkins to offer his
rationale for supporting the plan.

“I am here because I believe in this project,” Dinkins said during a quiet lull. “The
reason you are able to protest so loudly now is because I fought for you way back
then.” That further hushed them.

Dinkins believes the plan will be beneficial to the area, providing up to 6,000 new
university jobs with reliable health, educational and retirement benefits. The plan
(which in effect is 197-c) promises, on average, 1,200 construction-related jobs per
year for the next 25 years. Proposed is enhanced public arts and culture venues;

West Harlem no se vende

OPINIÓN - 08/23/2007
Jordi Reyes-Montblanc

Hace cuatro años que la Universidad de Columbia presentó sus planes de expansión ante la Junta Comunitaria No. 9 de Manhattan (CB9M, por sus siglas en ingles).

El Distrito 9 es reconocido como las tres barriadas históricas de Morningside Heights (la calle 110 oeste a 122 oeste); Manhattanville (122 oeste a 135 oeste) y Hamilton Heights (135 oeste a 155 oeste). El Distrito 9 es habitado hoy día por mas de 140,000 personas con aproximadamente el 50% Hispano.

La Columbia ya es dueña o controla las dos terceras partes de las 17 acres que ha designado como blanco de su expansión en Manhattanville. La universidad ha decido que esas 17 acres son esenciales para ellos y si no pueden comprar todas las propiedades le han pedido al estado que las condene, las expropie y se las de a la Universidad.

La quinta enmienda de la Constitución permite que el gobierno expropie propiedades privadas para uso público, como construcción de un hospital, una carretera, o una escuela publica. La Universidad es una entidad privada, no lucrativa pero no de beneficio publico ya que cuesta aproximadamente $60,000 al año para poder estudiar en ella. Por tanto, la CB9M se opone firmemente a la condenación y expropiación de las propiedades que rehúsan venderle a Columbia.

En efecto, la Universidad indica que creara más de 6,000 trabajos y durante los 30 años de construcciones que creara 1,200 trabajos de construcción. Lo que no explican es que esos 6,000 trabajos serán científicos, académicos, profesionales, técnicos y administrativos, puestos que pocas personas en nuestras comunidades pueden desempeñar. En cambio, la Columbia eliminaría más de 1,600 trabajos de factoría y mecánica bien pagados con beneficios de Uniones y desempeñados por residentes Hispanos y Africano Americanos del distrito. En otras palabras nos quieren dar “gato por liebre”.

Otro efecto que ya se sentía pero que ha sido agravado por la publicidad de la expansión es el aumento de alquileres. Apartamentos que hace tres o cuatro años pagaban alquileres de $300, $500 y $600, hoy día están pagando $1200, $1500 y $1800 mensuales, resultando en el desplazamiento de cientos de residentes, particularmente Latinos y Africano-Americanos.

Para poder lograr sus planes, la Universidad necesita la rezonificación del área de su expansión para poder construir los gigantescos edificios que se propone construir sobre un encoframiento subterráneo de siete pisos de profundidad bajo los edificios y debajo de las calles creando lo que llaman “bathtub” -- es decir una “bañadera” en un área con manantiales subterráneos y una falla sísmica que ha sido designada por los Departamento de Servicios de Emergencia de la Ciudad y del Estado como un área de evacuación debido a ser susceptible a las inundaciones y temblores de tierra y a presiones hidrostáticas subterráneas.

El 15 de agosto, durante la audiencia publica de CB9M, el consultante de la Universidad -- el conocido político y cabildero Bill Lynch -- contrató miembros de un programa de reforma de estupefacientes para que se presentarán en apoyo de la Universidad, asi como también miembros de las uniones de construcción que comparecieron en actitud beligerante reclamando trabajos. El resultado fue que la comunidad de latinos y Africano Americanos abuchearon y chiflaron al ex Alcalde David Dinkins, y al presidente de la Universidad Lee Bollinger. Mas de 125 personas testificaron pero solo 22 a favor del plan de la Universidad.

Es muy cierto que la Universidad tiene el potencial de hacer grandes descubrimientos médicos y científicos, pero eso no le da poder a Columbia para hacer y deshacer esta comunidad a su conveniencia y deseo.

A gritos, pitos y maracas, los residentes del Distrito 9 rechazaron los esfuerzos del “establecimiento político” de Harlem que trató de intervenir en los asuntos de esta comunidad.

Jordi Reyes-Montblanc es el presidente de la Junta Comunitaria 9 de Manhattan.

Just A Bump in the Road for Columbia?

Just A Bump in the Road for Columbia?
August 23rd, 2007

A Manhattan community board’s 31 to 2 vote against Columbia University’s expansion plans is exactly the type of thing that keeps New York’s bloggers at their computers. The university stumbled in the beginning stages of its approval process for its plan to take over 17 acres of Harlem for an expansion of the school’s campus. But what, exactly, does that mean in the long run?

The Real Estate blog writes that the vote includes some points that Columbia might still address in order to garner community support. Among those issues, the biggest sticking point, RE says, is the use of eminent domain, which the university might need to utilize if it cannot buy all of the property it needs. At the moment it owns 85 percent of the area in question.

In response, Richard Lipsky blogs that the inclusion affordable housing - not eminent domain - will most likely be the catalyst for the rezoning’s success or failure. Lipsky is lobbying on behalf of Tuck-It-Away, a storage company refusing to sell its properties to Columbia.

But Lipsky rubs the Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder the wrong way. Lipsky was also a lobbyist in the Atlantic Yards scuffle, but was on the developer’s side in that case. Now that he is on the side of community opposition, he is arguing points that he disputed in the earlier rezoning debate, Oder says.

For all the dabate, though, Curbed has dubbed the vote meaningless. Since the vote is non-binding, community boards alway vote against development, and because Columbia is buying its way into the area, they write the whole thing off in their typically snarky fashion.

The school’s next step is to gain approval by the City Council’s Land Use Committee followed by the City Planning Commission.

By Mike Muller on August 23, 2007, 7:27 am

Wednesday, August 22, 2007



· Whereas Manhattan Community Board 9 (CB9) has developed a comprehensive plan for Community District 9 under Section 197-a of the New York City Charter, including the Manhattanville area that is the subject of Columbia University’s (Columbia’s) proposed 197-c rezoning action and Academic Mixed-Use Development plan and;

· Whereas Columbia’s 197-c proposal is not consistent with the goals, objectives and recommendations set forth in CB9M’s 197-a Plan and;

· Whereas Columbia’s 197-c proposal will lead to the displacement of CB9’s low, moderate and middle-income African-American and Hispanic residents, resulting in significant and adverse impacts on the community, among other significant and adverse impacts and;

· Whereas the viability of Columbia’s proposed 7-story continuous sub-grade construction is in serious question due to the risks of storm, seismic events, and other environmental threats;

· Whereas the majority of historic properties identified in CB9’s 197-a Plan are not afforded historic landmark protection under Columbia’s 197-c proposal and;

· Whereas the neighborhood’s dynamic, richly layered historic, ethnic and cultural character, that would be preserved under the 197-a Plan, would be eliminated under Columbia’s 197-c proposal and;

· Whereas CB9 is an environmental justice community due to the existing high level of environmental burdens in the area and;

· Whereas the questionable use of eminent domain; demolition of viable existing buildings; massive earth removal requiring over 98,000 trucks; displacement of low- and moderate-income residents, particularly people of color; development of two power plants and relocation of the bus terminal below grade in a NYC Office of Emergency Management evacuation zone; high density development at the equivalent of FAR 9 in an area where the context is FAR 6; disregard for flood and seismic conditions and hydrostatic pressure through the bedrock; and non-participatory planning all argue against Columbia’s proposed Academic Mixed-Use Development plan being socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and;

· Whereas Columbia has not entered into a respectful, good faith collaboration with the community in developing its proposals and evaluating an alternative development scenario under the 197-a Plan and;

· Whereas CB9 welcomes Columbia into the community as part of a sustainable mixed-use, mixed ownership development scenario that includes commercial, light manufacturing, academic and residential uses; is compatible with existing neighborhood character; avoids residential and business displacement; provides a diverse and wide range of employment opportunities for local residents; and promotes the development of affordable housing, as set forth in the 197-a Plan and;

· Whereas a Public Hearing was conducted by Community Board 9 on August 15, 2007 to solicit public testimony on the Columbia proposed 197-c rezoning action and Academic Mixed-Use Development Plan and;

· Whereas such public testimony opposed by an overwhelming margin Columbia’s proposed 197-c rezoning action and Academic Mixed-Use Development Plan in its current form and;

· Whereas the ULURP Committee of Community Board 9 voted to oppose (by a vote of 17-1-0) Columbia’s proposed 197-c rezoning action and Academic Mixed-Use Development Plan in its current form immediately after the Public Hearing;

· Now therefore, be it resolved that Community Board 9 vote to oppose Columbia’s proposed rezoning action and Academic Mixed-Use Development Plan unless Columbia agrees to:

1. Withdraw the proposal for eminent domain, cease to use the threat of eminent domain to intimidate owners to sell, and abandon the process of imposing gag orders on those that have entered into agreements to sell;

2. Withdraw the proposal to build the 7-story below grade structure and the request to build under city streets and convey the area below grade to the University;

3. Build only on property owned by the University and obtained through negotiations with the owners without coercion and without the threat of eminent domain;

4. Guarantee that all housing developed directly by Columbia as a result of the Proposed Actions would meet the inclusionary housing requirements of the 197-a Plan; and that, in all Columbia developed and owned housing, an equal amount of housing for the University and the community would be created both on-site and off-site; and that no direct displacement would occur in the 17- acre area;

5. Columbia must immediately develop and hereafter permanently implement and carry out an effective housing anti-displacement program; commit not by itself or through any affiliate to purchase or lease or net lease any residential units in CB9M above 125th Street; and provide sufficient additional housing in areas outside CB9M to house all of the students and employees expected to use the proposed campus. And further not interfere with the transfer of 132 units from HPD to the residents of those units as previously agreed to by the City;

6. Pursue State and National Registers listing of any of its properties within the proposed Academic Mixed-Use Development Area found “eligible” by New York’s State Historic Preservation Office and not oppose LPC landmark designation of any site herein. Also preserve buildings of historic and cultural character throughout the proposed Special Manhattanville Mixed-Use Zoning District and in CB9 as a whole, as listed in the 197-a Plan;

7. Not build pollution emitting power sources - such as power plants and co-generation facilities - or research facilities above biosafety level 2, or other noxious installations that would contribute to the already high environmental burdens of this community;

8. Engage in sustainable design and construction practices that result in LEED platinum designation by U.S. Green Building Rating System prior to the commencement of construction;

9. Engage in good faith negotiations with CB9 to achieve a mutually beneficial land use compromise that would permit the construction of academic facilities needed by Columbia on properties owned by the University, through technical amendments to the 197-a Plan, in a manner that is consistent with the underlying principles and goals of the 197-a Plan and;

10. Otherwise meet the goals and objectives outlined in the 197-a Plan including, but not limited to, mitigating all direct and indirect adverse impacts with respect to job creation for local residents, economic development, socio-economic conditions, environmental protection and sustainable development, public transit, neighborhood character, public open space and other impact areas, as delineated by CB9 in the 197-a Plan.


Special General Board Meeting held August 20th, 2007 at 6:30 PM at the Manhattanville Community Center, 530 West 133rd Street.

Quorum: 22

Members Present: 36

Vote on the Resolution:

..Yes...............No.............Abastain...........Present Not Entitled

.. 32 ................. 2 ................. 2 ................................ 0

Resolution Passed and Becomes Board Policy.

CB9M - WestSide Harlem:

* Morningside heights * Manhattanville * Hamilton Heights *