Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Honey, They Shrunk My Expansion"

In what the Columbia Spectator describes as an overwhelming 31-2 vote, CB9 sent a message to Columbia University that the university's expansion plan, at least in its current incarnation, is not acceptable to the local community. The university, however, apparently feels that it has enough political support to basically ignore the local community board's advisory sentiments.

As President Bollinger told the Spectator: "'It's always better to have a unanimous vote in your favor...' But, noting the support the plan has from state officials and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, he added, 'we have to really take this focus and try to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement.'" Bollinger was referring to the CBA that is supposed to be developed between the university and the community-represented by the West Harlem LDC.

In last night's resolution of opposition, as Metro reports, there are ten basic demands that CB9 has laid out-crucial ones deal with eminent domain and affordable housing. Columbia feels that the board's provisos can be incorporated into a CBA. It remains to be seen, however, how well the LDC represents community interests. The aborted attempt to remove Columbia critic Nick Sprayregen from the LDC, indicates to us that there are currents on the local group whose mindset may be antithetical to the strongly delineated community concerns embodied in the CB9 vote last night.

It remains to be seen just how the area's elected officials will respond to the clear signals from the community board, and how well the CBA process reflects the sentiments expresses in last night's vote. More fireworks should be expected-as well as electoral blowback from residents if certain pols fail to read the handwriting on the wall.