Its summer time in New York City. Columbia University students have said their goodbyes to Morningside Heights, the community boards are on summer recess and CB9 is making a move to a new location in the interim...
and City Planning has certified the Environmental Impact Statement for Columbia's expansion into West Harlem. Its something we have been expecting for months now, and moves Columbia's plan ever closer to public hearings. Thing is, on the part of this decision from city planning thecommunity review is now slated to happen when the community isn't around.
Check WNYC for the news story and an interview with CB9 Chair, Jordy Reyes-Montblanc.
And take a look at SCEG's position on the issue and push to have President Bollinger do something about it...
Dear President Bollinger:
Throughout the years since Columbia announced its intention to expand into West Harlem, the administration has expressed time and time again its sincere desire to include Manhattanville residents in the planning process and to work with their representative body Community Board 9 on addressing concerns. One of the most important vehicles the community has to voice questions and make recommendations is CB9’s mandated review of the draft Environmental Impact Statement at the beginning of ULURP. The sixty days allowed a community board to read the EIS, hold public hearings on it, and develop a written recommendation for modifications is enough time to accomplish all of these things when the community board is in session. However, if ULURP begins during CB9’s Summer Hiatus, as it currently appears it will, there is little chance that the community will have adequate opportunity to be heard on issues critical to its welfare. Columbia cannot expect the community board to be able to coordinate a comprehensive and thoughtful response to the lengthy EIS document while many of its members are on vacation and the community at-large is more likely to be out of the City. Additionally, CB9 is currently relocating its offices and thus will be further hindered in its advisory position if the timing of ULURP goes ahead as planned.
There is another group of people who will be removed, en masse, from the review process due to unfortunate timing: students. The University has spent time and resources educating us about the expansion; why do this if not to provide the tools necessary for our participation in the process? Information is always welcome in and of itself, but imagine what it would be like, as a student, to return from summer vacation and find that there is no longer any venue in which to translate this information into action. We are as much a part of the “the public” as anyone else, and deserve the opportunity—or more accurately the right, according to City law—to be informed about and speak on issues that intimately affect us as members of the University and Morningside Heights communities. Columbia should care that its own students will be effectively silenced on matters relevant to them if ULURP is not postponed until they are back on campus.
Therefore, we ask that Columbia fight for its students on this matter by asking City Planning to delay release of the EIS. The University has the power to ensure that our voices are heard and that CB9 remains a full partner by lobbying to postpone action on its application with DCP until the fall. While it is ultimately the City’s decision whether or not to maintain the integrity of the public-review process, Columbia has spent far too much time broadcasting assurances about working hand-in-hand with the community and wanting its students to be involved to now claim powerlessness. Columbia has clout; it can influence City Planning procedure if it dares to demand a fairer, more inclusive public review instead of turning a blind eye to such a glaring oversight in the democratic process. If the administration truly feels that compromise and collaboration will yield the best possible plan, this is the moment to prove it.
The Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification
Info Sheets on the Expansion:
Now online and printable as pdf files all the info you could ever want on the expansion. Affordable housing, living wage jobs, and eminent domain are just some of the issues covered. So go here print them out and get informed.
Also: The West Harlem Expansion: A Look at the Issues
[book form | computer form]
(for book form remember to print double sided with short-edge binding turned on)
THE WEST HARLEM OPEN HOUSE
This Wednesday (April 18th) from 12-2pm SCEG and the Coalition to Preserve Community (CPC)
will be out at the sundial at Columbia University, 116th st. between Broadway and Amsterdam, giving another take on Columbia's plans for Manhattanville.
12-1pm The Open House with info on Affordable Housing, Living Wage, Eminent Domain Abuse and
the Community 197a Plan 1-2pm The Teach-in with community members, professors and students speaking on the Columbia expansion and gentrification
Noon - 2pm Wednesday April 18th
The sundial at Columbia University
116th st. between Broadway and Amsterdam
11 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday until March 29th
Multiracial Coalition Building Series Discussion:
Wednesday March 28th at 8:00.
Riverside Emerging Artist League Meeting:
Thursday March 29th at 8:30 PM
The Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification in cooperation with Postcrypt Art Gallery are currently running an art exhibition exploring the relationship between the neighborhood and residents of West Harlem, Columbia students, and the university as an institution. A close examination of Columbia University's planned expansion into West Harlem, the exhibition is an attempt to not only draw attention to the issues present within this planned expansion, but also as a closer look at the relationship between Columbia and its surrounding community.
The exhibition will feature the work of Columbia University students and Harlem artists and residents and will give students, residents, and local artists the opportunity to work both independently and together to creatively express their views on the issues- as well as provide a foundation for future collaboration.
The exhibition will be open Monday through Friday between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM in the Postcrypt Art Gallery space in the basement of St. Paul's Chapel (next to Avery Hall, on Columbia University's campus). In an attempt to create an artistic understanding and to further foster a relationship between Columbia University and Harlem. On Wednesday March 28, SCEG will hold a discussion for the Multiracial Coalition Building Series at 8:00. On Thursday March 29th, the Riverside Emerging Artist League will give 8 artists the chance to present their works to each other and to the student body at large at 8:30 PM.