New York City councilman Tony Avella has a piece in last Friday’s Columbia Spectator taking the city’s government to task for failing the citizens of the city:
While some are rejoicing at the City Council’s approval of the Columbia expansion/Manhattanville rezoning applications, many others, including myself, are astonished by the failure of the land use approval process to protect the West Harlem neighborhood and afford the community true input into the project.
Despite seven hours of public testimony on this application and the 197-a plan submitted by Manhattan Community Board 9, not a single change was made by the City Council on the Columbia proposal. Think about it—Columbia’s idea to utterly change forever 17 acres in West Harlem was not amended in any way shape or form at the City Council level.
The City Council and the administration have now set a dangerous precedent for the use of eminent domain. In the future, any powerful developer or politically connected institution, such as Columbia, can tell the city it has a better use for your property. As a result, no property owner in the city should feel safe.
Indeed, this policy is already being considered and employed in other parts of the city—in downtown Brooklyn (the Ratner/Nets Stadium project) and in Willets Point, Queens.
The whole thing can be read here.