Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why Columbia's Community Board 'Defeat' Is Meaningless

Why Columbia's Community Board 'Defeat' Is Meaningless
Tuesday, August 21, 2007, by Lockhart

We've been laying off Manhattanville as of late while waiting for something of note to actually happen with Columbia University's expansion plans in the West 120s and 130s. Comes a meeting of Community Board 9 last night to give the illusion of action—and, judging by the headlines in the local press this morning, Columbia either did or did not suffer a crushing defeat and/or a secure a victory.

Reality: doesn't much matter whether Columbia won or loss last night's vote, which technically concerned rezoning the neighborhood to allow for the construction that Columbia wants to expand its campus northward. First, the community board's vote is non-binding. Second, community boards tend to always vote against zoning changes like this. And third, as the Columbia Spectator reports, Columbia plans to do things the old fashioned way and buy its way out of community opposition (known in polite company as "continuing the conversation"). In other words, onward.·

CB9 Votes Down Expansion Plans [Columbia Spectator] ·

Reader Comments (16 extant)

$7B investment being held up by a couple dozen people, many of which enjoy public housing, all whom collectively might invest less than $100K over their life times in the same area.

Seriously, for everyone on that board that voted, collectively, all of them, I doubt they will collectively spend more than $100,000 in the same area for the rest of their lives, yet they're saying no to $7B in investment.
By Anonymous at August 21, 2007 11:56 AM

This is why we need to get rid of the projects. It creates this backward mentality!!!!

By getridoftheprojects at August 21, 2007 11:59 AM

A bunch of people don't want spanking new buildings to replace the ratty garages, auto repair shops and empty buildings there. The vibe in this city is to protect the blight first. It's nuts. It's like the critics of the Ikea in Red Hook crying foul over parking and congestion. So instead of the store they want the area to remain a barren wasteland. Get with progress, folks.
By joer at August 21, 2007 12:14 PM

Check out the comments from the CB9 president on his blog. It looks like "outsiders" should not have any say in his district. Yeah, I'm sure all of the people that spoke out against Columbia are from his district. He is all about maintaining status quo.

"It is the stated and reaffirmed policy of CB9M that only those who reside within the District have anything to say on what happens in the District. With all due respect to those luminaries brought in by Columbia University from OUTSIDE our community they should know clearly that their opinions, beliefs or comments are neither solicited, appreciated or welcomed by the West Harlem communities.

It is a fact that our community has NEVER been consulted about major projects carried out in other CB Districts and it is only costumary that when a project abuts another Community Board District both CBs coordinate and work together, however that is not case with the Columbia Expansion which is right smack in the center of District 9 and does not abut any other CB District. CB9M is willing to discuss the ripple effects if any with surrounding CB Districts but other than that all outsiders, regardless of who they are or think they are, should keep out - JRM"
By Anonymous at August 21, 2007 12:52 PM

many projects are in the hood, name some pls?
What % of that community benefits and consumes our tax dollars in excess of norm (beyond NYPD/FDNY, etc) with minimal contribution itself? The vast majority of CB9 is privileged in all sorts of ways thanks to the development of Manhattan and the tax dollars Manhattan secures due to development.

Manhattan development fuels the public housing over there, the welfare, the business in those warehouses that do a ton of off the books cash work on cars, etc.

CB9 DOES NOT Carry it's on weight. It's this fact that gives us all a say, someone should tell this wingnut that.

That's what's really funny about all this, CB9 acts as if it's self sufficient and carries it's own weight, give me a break they are reliant on the development of Manhattan to fuel their social welfare benefits.
By anon at August 21, 2007 1:36 PM

#5....Manhattanville and General Grant projects are all within a block or so....and they are huge complexes By Anonymous at
August 21, 2007 1:37 PM

The CB prez is very shortsighted. Columbia is a world-class university whose ability to educate and research impacts more than just the immediate (and arbitrary) boundaries of a Community Board. If anything, the "fact" that this expansion will affect "only" CB9 is an argument for giving Columbia a green light.
By Yiz at August 21, 2007 1:47 PM

I live just north of Manhattanville (in Hamilton Heights). The reason there's so much opposition is that the whole area is over 90% rental properties. The neighbor on my left owns his brownstone and can't wait for this development to happen. The neighbor on my right says this the plan is a form of institutional/corporate racism of some kind (both of them are black).

Columbia should have been more forceful from the beginning saying that they would build more affordable housing as part of their development plan then is there already.

The bottom line is that it's going to happen eventually and it's going to help create a more vibrant West Harlem all the way from 96th st through Morningside and Hamilton Heights and up to 145th st.
By Anonymous at August 21, 2007 3:13 PM

Is it just me, or do the Community Board demands seem frustratingly incongruous? On one hand, they are arguing for keeping the small time auto garages, gas station and light manufacturing around, and on the other they are demanding that Columbia's development meet platinum environmental standards. Which do they want, long-term seepage and contamination, or green use?
By i don't get cb9 at all at August 21, 2007 4:18 PM

Columbia's development site has very few housing sites and the majority of the housing in the immediate area has some form of rent control (public housing, TIL housing, rent control or stabilization.)

The CB president it not thinking at all about the future of his community. He is being controlled by a few desperate land owners who say they care about the community, but really only care about themselves. Their businesses (self storage and industrial supplies) benefit from the area staying underdeveloped. The University's development will bring jobs. How many people does a parking garage employ???

The CB doesn't see the alterantive to the University developing here... market rate condos or it staying the way it is...
By Community Member at August 21, 2007 4:33 PM

I like the dilapedated old buildings
By LESer at August 21, 2007 7:39 PM

oh curbed comments section, why do I ever read you?
By thfs at August 21, 2007 10:54 PM

Soho and the meatpacking district used to be considered dilapidated old buildings. If change involves keeping the character of the neighborhood, there would be less community outrage.
By morningsider at August 22, 2007 6:49 AM

#14 - That neighborhood has very little character and Columbia is saving most of the buildings that do have any architectural merit. Buildings that housed auto repair shops and gas stations are not worth preserving.
By Anonymous at August 22, 2007 10:33 AM

Yeah, how ridiculous is this community?
Can you IMAGINE that a bunch of underprivileged and poor folk think they have a right to not be kicked out of their homes? I mean, what, it's only 3100 tenants or something according to Columbia's own estimate.

What sort of idiotic community of working-class people DOESN'T want some of the richest college students and professors in hte country driving up their rents on the buildings Columbia doesn't knock down to the point that they'll all be made homeless?

And what sort of business owner wouldn't want "investment" in his or her neighborhood and a chance to get a job working as a janitor for Columbia University by merely allowing to have his or her business "eminent domained" out from under his or her feet for "the public good"?

Clearly the residents of West Harlem are too stupid for Columbia to waste all this money "developing" or "civilizing" them. Maybe Columbia could find someplace else to lovingly place its gated community?
By HousingMatters at August 23, 2007 10:58 AM

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