As the Observer is reporting, the court date for the appeal by ESDC of the appellate court's b-slap of its eminent domain proceeding against Nick Sprayregen, is scheduled to be heard on June the First: "Columbia University's proposed 17-acre expansion is set for a test June 1, when the state's top court is scheduled to hear arguments on the use of eminent domain, a power that was ruled unconstitutional by a state appellate court in December in a humiliating blow for the Ivy League school and the state. (The scathing court decision labeled the state's argument that the area was blighted as "mere sophistry.")"
If the Court of Appeals upholds the lower court ruling it will lead to a sea change in the way that eminent domain is used in NY State. But the decision here isn't any slam dunk-and the Appeals Court has already upheld Atlantic Yards: "Seeking to reverse the decision, the state's lawyers are arguing that the appellate court was far off-base, and ignored precedent set by the top court in November for the use of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards, the $4.9 billion housing and basketball arena project in Brooklyn."
For Sprayregen and his attorney Norman Siegel the two cases are quite different: 'Seeking to reverse the decision, the state's lawyers are arguing that the appellate court was far off-base, and ignored precedent set by the top court in November for the use of eminent domain for Atlantic Yards, the $4.9 billion housing and basketball arena project in Brooklyn."
And let's not forget the role of our favorite consultants AKRF, whose behavior prompted Judge Catterson to wonder whether the fix was in. As Siegel argues: "On this record, Petitioners-Respondents' have shown that, because of the intentional and systematic bias with which they were designed and implemented, Respondent-Appellant's finding and the studies on which it is based, are patently unreasonable and utterly without basis."
Understandably, the state puts its faith in what it sees as precedent: "Among other arguments, the state asserts that the appellate court tossed aside precedent and was erroneous in suggesting the West Harlem neighborhood was not blighted. From the state's brief:
"The plurality opinion in the Appellate Division, written by Justice Catterson (and joined in by Justice Nardelli) wholly ignored the decision of this Court issued nine days earlier."
If the higher court allows the lower court ruling to stand, it will send a chill down the spine of the EDC condemners-and that's especially true if any upholding decision looks at the blight issue with care. The role of the city's neglect in the blighting of Willets Point could well lead to the trashing of any ED effort on the Iron Triangle. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
In our view, an adverse Appeals Court decision against NY State would be the icing on the cake. Our more immediate goal is to demonstrate that the Willets Point project makes no economic sense in the current economic climate-and its environmental impacts make it unworthy at any time, either now or in the future.