The New York Court of Appeals just released its decision regarding the Empire State Development Corporation's use of eminent domain, and they've come down on the side of Columbia. The expansion plan is a go. We'll keep updating this post as we hear more. Stay tuned. UPDATE (11:06 a.m.): A statement from President Bollinger, emailed to Spectator:
We are gratified by the Court's unanimous decision and look forward to moving ahead with the long-term revitalization of these blocks in Manhattanville that will create thousands of good jobs for New Yorkers and help our City and State remain a global center of pioneering academic research. Lee C. Bollinger
UPDATE (11:32 a.m.):
UPDATE (11:46 a.m.):
UPDATE (11:53 a.m.):
I think it's a ruling that reflects the power of elitist institutions, and it's one that will facilitate the eviction and the elimination of a great west harlem community. It's one that will have national repercussions. I think it will yet another legal tool to allow elitist institutions, corporations, and ppl who live by great financial means to be able to displace low-income people from the communities from their communities. Obviously there are still other legal recourse, so we have to wait and see about that. I would say I'm a realist and a decision like this, it definitely dampens the potential resistance to a degree. But we're not going anywhere. We live here. And we'll continue our resistance. I absolutely love education, I love universities, I love colleges, I love the whole idea. It runs in my heart and soul and I care about little else other than the ability of ppl to be able to develop themselves in whatever way they can. The problem is that Columbia does not do that as a public institution. It does it in another way perhaps, and in the process of doing that I believe it censors out a great amount of the world that renders their educational process tainted. We are dealing with, in the world that we are in, an institution that provides services for a specialized group, that does not include a vast number of new Yorkers and Americans, and of course I'm talking about terms of class and race, but I think that the idea that they can going and grab this huge swath of land in harlem and basically steal it from these landowners and steal it from us, is abusive and not public use. I would disagree with the interpretation of those judges. Us, that are not part of elite world that columbia serves. Columbia's environmental impact statement says that over the buildup period over 5K ppl will be displaced, we know it'll be more than that. If it were 50 it should be adjusted. But it's not about the number, it's about the whole way columbia has invaded a community and the way it thinks about it.
UPDATE (11:56 a.m.):
Empire State Development is very pleased with the Court of Appeals unanimous ruling in favor of the Columbia Manhattanville project. This confirms that the project complies with New York State law in all respects and that the acquisition of the holdout properties is essential to realizing the vision for the Manhattanville campus as it was approved by the State. Empire State Development looks forward to achieving the many goals of the project, including: enhancing the City and State as international centers for higher education premier graduate programs and academic research; facilitating scientific advances through academic research; replacing underutilized, substandard and insanitary conditions with new educational, research, recreational, cultural and local retail facilities; and creating much-needed, park-like open space in the area. This $6.3 billion project will be one of the largest to move forward this year, resulting in 14,000 construction jobs over 25 years and 6,000 University positions. The expansion of one of New York's oldest educational institutions will enhance the vitality of both the University and its neighboring West Harlem community, while meeting the long-term needs of its residents.
UPDATE (12:53 p.m.):
UPDATE (3:37 p.m.):
We're extremely disappointed. We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals' decision, its reasoning, analysis, and conclusion. The decision sets a terrible precedent regarding the use of eminent domain in New York State. We intend to ask the Supreme Court of the United States to review the case. We're beginning to put the papers together right now. This decision opens the door to even greater abuse of eminent domain in New York State. It's the first time the court has held that a private educational institution can constitute a civic project.
UPDATE (3:38 p.m.):
In general, there were a lot of overtly biased assumptions. They claim that the appellate court [Appellate Division] erred as a matter of law by conducting a de novo review of the blight studies based on the administrative record, but then they [the Court of Appeals] conduct their own ... including taking the Earth Tech study's findings as independent without meeting the main critique, which was that they [Earth Tech] adopted the methodology of AKRF wholesale. Instead they use the term 'rubber stamp,' which was never asserted. It's a straw man that allows them to write off the whole argument based on there being no professional relationship between Earth Tech and Columbia. They also only mention part of the role AKRF was hired by Columbia to perform, the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement], but they don't mention that they [AKRF] also acted as Columbia's consultant for advocacy purposes. In general, it's a very one-sided and thus shallow portrayal. Not surprising, of course. This was the first time they've ever reversed a lower court decision disallowing eminent domain since the passage of the UDC Act. There clearly was plenty of bad faith that they had to hold their noses for in order to reach their decision.