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January 13, 2005

COLUMBIA’S EXPANSION: Summit Is Set For University

The New York Sun: The controversy behind Columbia University's proposed expansion was related to Ratner's arena because of the use of eminent domain. Now Columbia is taking another page from the Ratner playbook in proposing to draft a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with the Community Board 9.

The university and the community board view the proposed meeting as a way to smooth over their disagreements over the expansion plans and perhaps forge a binding “community benefits agreement” between the parties. The nature of that compact would be similar to that of a proposed agreement between Brooklyn community boards and Forest City Ratner involving plans to move the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise to the Atlantic Yards complex.      A community source familiar with the negotiations between the community board and Columbia said the board wants a legally binding agreement that would include guarantees concerning job growth, employee training, and “affordable housing.”

The community board also wants Columbia to rule out supporting eminent domain proceedings against any holdout businesses. Seven of the businesses have sought to pre-empt any government move toward condemnation by hiring a prominent attorney, Norman Siegel, formerly with the New York Civil Liberties Union, to represent them.


Funny how preceptions are stronger than facts. Brooklyn's Community Boards 2, 6 & 8 have been insisting that they were only paticipating in the CBA negotiations with Ratner "in an advisory capacity." Local activists warned the Brooklyn Community Boards that Ratner would promote their involvement in order to create a perception that the Community Board actually negotiated the deal.

Just because the activists were paranoid doesn't mean they weren't right.

At least Manhattan Community Board 9 is sticking up for its property owners by opposing the use of eminent domain. What do property owners in the footprint of Ratner's proposal have to do to get government support in this town?

Posted by lumi at January 13, 2005 8:33 AM