Columbia, Forward Ho!

Written by Kari Milchman on . Posted in Education, Posts.


On Monday, a motley group of West Harlem locals, including residents, clergy, students and Community Board 9 members, gathered outside the City Planning Commission (CPC) to call for a postponement of Columbia University’s Manhattanville re-zoning application. However, their efforts were in vain, as the application was approved later that afternoon, launching the official public review and comment period under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which will come to a close in mid-August. The rescheduling was requested on the grounds that a summer ULURP inhibits the review process due to the fact that Community Boards do not meet, staff and consultants are often out of town and general participation is more difficult. Chanting “Harlem—Not for sale” and toting anti-gentrification signs in both English and Spanish, protestors implied the ULURP timing was intentional, as a means to limit the amount of opposition to Columbia’s planned 17-acre expansion in West Harlem. Daniel Goldstein for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn was on hand, likening this development to the Atlantic Yards project, citing as similarities the use of eminent domain and the claim that both West Harlem and Fort Green have been deemed blighted neighborhoods, saying, “the community is put last and the powerful private interests are put first.” Bryan Mercer, of Columbia’s Student Coalition on Expansion & Gentrification, likened the university’s current growth to the 1968 protests regarding the allegedly segregated Morningside Park Gymnasium that never came to be, and said that student voices have been silenced by a concurrent ULURP and summer vacation. We wonder if the students will wait to host a sit in so they can do it in the new glass buildings somewhere between 129th and 133rd Streets.

..