Subject: Testimony by Maritta Dunn
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 07:24:11 -0400
Below is my testimony at the September 19th Manhattan Borough President hearing. Please feel free to circulate it.
Boro President Hearing
September 19th, 2007
I understand that each person only has two minutes but I may need three. My name is Maritta Dunn. I am the former Chair of Community Board 9 and I am listed on two of the three 197-A plans submitted to the City Planning Commission. Currently, I am the elected representative of the residents of the Manhattanville Houses to the West Harlem Local Development Corp.
The issue here is simple.
· CB9’s 197A plan is inclusive. It includes all who currently want to remain on the property that they own. Further, long-term residents of the community, whose interests must be addressed, support it.
· Columbia University’s 197C plan is exclusive. It excludes all that is not University driven. It represents the interests of a transient population that, at best, would only spend limited time in our community.
It is my understanding that the NYC Planning Commission, funded by our tax dollars and mandated to protect our interests, has allowed paid consultants of Columbia to render an opinion on behalf of the Commission. I think that a blind man could see a problem with this.
Although the businesses involved do not hire from the immediate community, they do benefit from their location and the fees paid by local residents for storage.
In the beginning of 2003 I started organizing these businesses because of my belief in the “American Dream” - the professed right to own your own home and to own property. Neither should be taken, by any means, for private gain. It is for this reason that I cannot support Columbia’s 197c plan and neither should you.
Currently, the Boro President has a zoning proposal to create a West Harlem Special District. This would protect us from future development pressures such as Columbia’s. I believe that this proposal is key to retaining the scale and character of West Harlem. I am urging everyone present to vigorously support the West Harlem Special District proposal for the current and future good of our area.