Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Columbia's Gredo: "This Land is My Land"

In today's NY Post the Manhattan Institute's Julia Vitullo-Martin lashes out against the greed exhibited by Columbia in its effort to expand into the West Harlem community. In particular, she wonders why the university needs to exercise the use of eminent domain in its expansion; "The school should back off on its stubborn insistence on retaining eminent domain as an option..."

What Vitullo-Martin points out here is the unwillingness of Columbia to develop any kind of shared vision, an unwillingness that threatens to transform what is on balance a good thing for the city, into something quite less so. As one local eviction-threatened resident told the Post, "Columbia moving in is a bad thing because Columbia isn't willing to share."

Which gets right to the heart of what is wrong here. Columbia is moving ahead in its typical mind over matter approach-"I don't mind, and you don't matter." They haven't proactively and inclusively looked to develop any kind of shared vision plan that would address some of the critical issues put forward by BP Stringer in his recently released zoning proposal.

The last word in the Post piece goes to the "ferocious" Nick Sprayregen who vows that he will not be moved by Columbia's greed. As he told Vitullo-Martin, "But Columbia wants it all-100 percent of everything. They have no desire for nuance, for compromise, for diversity." Which leaves us with the clear impression that the Columbia expansion plan can easily be improved through a more carefully woven shared vision.