The ULURP Committee
Community Board 9 – Manhattan
Testimony on Columbia University’s 197-c Plan
Manhattanville Community Center
August 15th, 2007
Mesdames Co-Chairs, ULURP Committee Members, Board Members, Elected Officials and their Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Jordi Reyes-Montblanc and I am the Chairman of Manhattan Community Board No. 9., a local resident and home-owner.
First I would like to express my thanks to all those attending these proceedings and testifying tonight for or against the Columbia University 197-c Plan.
Having said that, I will remind everyone that CU has been a member of the WestSide Harlem community for over 100 years, for those who do not know, Morningside Heights is the southernmost neighborhood of West Harlem.
However, I must say that although I have great hopes for a close and fruitful partnership between Columbia and West Harlem, there are many obstacles to overcome on both sides. The community must get over its suspicion and dread of the Columbia expansion and Columbia must overcome the feelings that they know better what is good for West Harlem and our people.
The use of eminent domain or even the threat of eminent domain MUST be removed. CB9M stands firmly and unequivocally on that principle. We will support any owner of properties that refuses to sell and stand with them against eminent domain use for the private benefit of another private entity.
Columbia’s failure to meaningfully discuss and negotiate with CB9M regarding the land use issues that do not meet CB9M’s 197-a Plan standards has been a lost opportunity to help develop the trust and partnership Columbia indicated was their objective.
The total lack of consideration for our 197-a Plan is a great strategic and tactical loss for the University.
The undefined uses of buildings of mammoth proportions equals a request for a “blank check” and we are to trust that CU will do the right thing for the community – Not gonna happen!.
I totally disapprove of the Columbia 197-c Plan…. UNLESS… Columbia revises its 197-c Plan to more closely conform with the goals and objectives of CB9M’s 197-a Plan.