Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blight? In the Eyes of the Beholder

The NY Sun is reporting that Columbia University has hired an outside consultant to demonstrate that the area in West Harlem that is in the line of their expansion is "blighted." The designation would pave the way for the use of eminent domain to oust the property holders that are unwilling to unload their land to the university.

In response, Norman Seigel, who represents the owners, says that he will challenge any such designation in court and that is there is blight in the area, "'s been caused by Columbia." That all may be true and we support all of Norman's legal efforts but, regardless of the legal issues here. it still remains true that the Columbia plan is a failed plan because of its failure to address some of the compelling needs in the community.

Put simply, the plan is good for Columbia and any other benefits are collateral and not integral to the plan's features. This plan, then fails politically and the elected officials involved need to get cooking here if they are going to fulfill their representative function. After all, the expansion plan contradicts in total the community planning board's 197-A plan.

It's hard to see how the city can allow the university to develop 18 acres in Manhattan without any affordable housing, and the so-called development corporation that was set up to negotiate a CBA is appearing more and more to be a Trojan Horse with General Masyr leading the army of appeasers.