Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Columbia Speedway and the LDC Speed Bump

In today's Crain's Insider the newsletter continues its coverage of the Columbia expansion plan with a report on the intervention of Charlie Rangel. Rangel, to his credit, is trying to jump start the sluggish negotiations between the West Harlem LDC and the university: "Meanwhile, Rep. Charlie Rangel has stepped into the negotiations over community benefits. He wrote a letter on behalf of the LDC, saying that the terms Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer named for his approval of the expansion—including a $20 million housing fund paid by Columbia—should be viewed as a starting point. Rangel says the Stringer agreement should not detract from the LDC’s claims about what constitutes adequate compensation for local businesses and residents."

This is promising because, absent the congressman's initiative, the rest of the area's elected officials quiescence was going to lead to very little positive for the community and the local businesses. Political will is exactly what has been missing, and Rangel's belief that the Stringer negotiated benefits should be seen as "ante," is spot on.

In the same report, Crain's speculates that the City Council could wrap up its deliberations over the CU expansion before the end of the year. While this is certainly a possibility, it makes little sense to fast track a vote before the outstanding CBA issues are resolved.