For Immediate Release: April 22, 2006 DEMO DAY
CONTACT CELL NO: Tom DeMott (917 969-0669)
Alt: #'s: Nellie Bailey (212) 234-5005 or Luis Tejada (212) 234-3002 (se
April 27, Harlem Community Fights Hurricane Columbia’s Proposed Expansion
On Thursday, April 27th from 4P.M. until 6:30 P.M. in front of the main gate
of Columbia University at 116th and Broadway, hundreds of Harlem residents,
workers, students, business owners and supporters from across the city will
demonstrate against the University’s proposed 5 billion-dollar thirty-year
expansion into the Manhattanville section of West Harlem. Not since 1968 has
Columbia University faced such community opposition. Demonstrators are protesting
the University’s attempt to move forward like a hurricane evicting and
destroying this historic Harlem community and damaging the surrounding neighborhoods.
Members of the Coalition to Preserve Community, the West Harlem Business Group
and the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification will express support
for development under the community-based 197A plan, initiated a decade
before the University's plan, which would protect the very businesses and
residential buildings that Columbia seeks to remove as well as provide for compensatory
mechanisms addressing secondary displacement.
Community Demands Leases for Local Businesses
Workers and owners of businesses at 3251 Broadway, which has five floors full
of skilled auto mechanics and a basement antique restoration business have
been worried about their future ever since Columbia purchased the building a
ago and immediately tried to shut down the elevator that serves all the
occupants. Community residents will express their solidarity with them and will
demand that Columbia give leases to all of them. "We have skilled workers here
who earn a good living and support their families. They will not be finding
employment at Columbia's biotech labs and our jobs are protected under the 197A
plan," said Jovani Dominguez, the owner of New Millennium Auto Repair.
Columbia Threatens Eminent Domain to Businesses and Residents
Columbia is harassing businesses and distributing PR brochures without
reference to the current commercial and residential uses. Anne Whitman, owner of
Hudson Moving, states: "They are pretending we don't exist. If Columbia and Mr.
Bollinger truly believed in and supported "affirmative action" in the real
world, they would not threaten a 100% woman owned business in a 100% woman owned
property with 100% women and minority employees. I am not for sale and neither
are the other businesses and residents!"
Rob Rosello, a tenant in 3289 Broadway who has been working for years to
convert his building to a low-income home-ownership cooperative under the
Tenant Interim Lease program, speaks of the need for solidarity. "My
and those tenants in other buildings nearby who are facing eviction, like 602
West 132nd Street, have supported the 197 A plan because it supports the idea
that longtime residents should have a chance at ownership. The backbone
position of the 197A plan is that those who want to stay should be able to
that includes us. We support the workers at 3251 Broadway and the other
businesses in the area that have right to stay here along with those who live
Biotech Research Raises Health and Safety Concerns
The decision by Columbia, with a history of EPA violations concerning
hazardous materials, to place a biotech research center in the midst of a residential
neighborhood is a concern that goes beyond the immediate Harlem community.
Its proximity to the Hudson River and to an earthquake fault, recent biotech
accidents, and the likelihood of military-related research in this age of extra
vigilance due to bio-terrorist fears, heightens anxiety. The community will not
allow the University to replace long-term residents with money-making
biodefense contracts and shiny new Biolevel #3 labs. This is a residential
neighborhood and its residents are not willing to be accident victims.
Demands to Bollinger
The Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification, working with
community groups, say that Columbia students are increasingly questioning the
University's plans to convert a vibrant and diverse neighborhood into an
institutional company town. The students will help get the community's demands to
CU's President Bollinger. Bryan Mercer of the Student Coalition said, "We
believe the community needs a voice and our job is to try and do something
sensible here, not bulldoze people out."
RALLY AT 5:30: Speakers will include business owners, workers, and
residential tenants facing eviction, as well as longtime community residents, clergy,
members of local non-profits and students.
FOR MORE INFO, CONTACT: Coalition to Preserve Community: Tom DeMott (cell:
917 969-0669) (212) 666-6426 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Nellie Bailey (212)
234-5005, or Luis Tejada (212) 234-3002 (se habla espanol),
West Harlem Business Group: Anne Whitman cell 917 705-2922 (212) 678-4862 or
Nick Sprayregan cell: (917)-299-0907 or (212) 368-1717
Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification: Nell Geiser
(646)-296-5927, Bryan Mercer (267)-252-6542 or Lee Norsworthy (856) 371-6123