University Senate Proposed:
TRANSCRIPT OF AN
OPEN SENATE MEETING ON MANHATTANVILLE:
President Lee Bollinger,
the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after in 106 Jerome Greene Hall at the
PRESIDENT LEE BOLLINGER: I’m going to try one, and if that doesn’t work I’ll just try another one. So we’ll see how long this goes. The way we’re going to try to do it first is by unanimous consent [to] permit people who are not senators to participate in a Senate meeting. So it will continue as a Senate meeting throughout the discussion about Manhattanville, and we’ll sort of label it a town hall Senate meeting, or a Senate meeting town hall, whichever you prefer.
So I’m going to put this to a vote, and I’m going to ask if anybody disagrees with this—that is, votes against opening the Senate meeting up at the point of the discussion of Manhattanville. If anybody disagrees with making this a Senate meeting with non-senators participating, please raise your hand. Okay?
SEN. MICHAEL ADLER (Ten., Bus.): I’m not sure I object. I just wonder why they can’t be silent observers.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Well, because we want them to be not silent if they choose to be not silent. In other words, people may want to ask questions and in order to speak at a Senate meeting, it requires the approval of the senators. Shall we do it again? Is there anyone who votes against that motion? [No one votes against it]. Great. So that takes care of that.
We first have to adopt the agenda. Is there a motion? Second. All in favor say aye.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Opposed. Passes. Then we need to adopt the minutes. Is there a motion? Second? Any discussion about the minutes? All in favor say aye.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Passes unanimously. I won’t say anything more than this as an
opening to the discussion about Manhattanville.
Just a few points. As you know
and as you’ve heard me say many times, I think [this] is probably the most
important thing that
The second point is that from the beginning we have wanted
to make this a partnership with the surrounding communities. We have chosen—this is a choice on our
part—to expand within our neighborhood, within our communities. There are other possibilities for where
But quite apart from that, in doing this, we recognize that we are taking on more obligations, more responsibilities for the people who live near us, and just as we care about global communities and trying to serve the world, we also have to make sure we pay attention to the communities who are right next to us.
And the third thing I want to say is that this has all fallen into place, I think, in an extremely fortunate way. I think there is a wide consensus from every sector, whether the political sector or the arts, business, unions and workers, communities, people generally, faculty. I think there’s a wide consensus that this is a project of great merit, [which] really should happen, and it is so far over the past several years, because it’s been many years in the planning, at least three—that this is proceeding extremely well. I’ve given periodic reports almost every Senate meeting about where it stands in the particular process, and I know it has seemed at many times—early on especially, of course—as something in the very, very far distance. It is no longer in the very great distance. It is within the time of almost everyone here. Perhaps some students will not obviously see the effects of Manhattanville, but even there we have many administrators and some academic programs already in Manhattanville, and planning to move to Manhattanville. So the effects are immediate.
And then the very last thing is [that] I want to recognize the people who have worked day in and day out on making this happen. It’s almost an invisible process to 99.9 percent of the communities how much work this takes. And it is literally a full-time purpose and mission of countless people here, and Robert Kasdin, senior executive vice president for administration; and Maxine Griffith, executive vice president for community relations, state relations; David Stone, who does our communications, executive vice president for communications, and others—Alan Brinkley. Just it goes on and on. But these people. and most importantly the people under them, who staff all of the work that is done working with the city, working with the communities, living with this day and night—it must be, it is certainly dozens of people who are devoting their lives to this, and we want to thank all of them.
I will now turn this over to Paul for the chairman’s report.
SEN. PAUL DUBY (Ten., SEAS, Executive Committee chairman): Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll be very brief. We had a meeting of the Executive Committee last week, and we took care of moving on with some items that were before the Senate at the previous meeting. Faculty Affairs had a very brief report last time, and they probably will have a much more extensive one at the next meeting or the following one. I think the other important item is the fact that the student caucus had some extensive discussion about the Minutemen incident, and they have been thinking about a resolution to put before the Senate, and unfortunately the Spectator had an article which was mistaken in announcing that this would be on the agenda at today’s meeting. Of course those of you who have seen the agenda know that it is not. So that may come out in the future.
One other piece of information for the senators is that the
next meeting will be on a Thursday. So
it’s going to be Thursday, November 16, and I presume same time and the room
will be announced. But it probably will
be again in the
PRES. BOLLINGER: Great. So now [let’s] turn this over to Sharyn. I would like to add my thanks and recognition to Sharyn for also extensive work and thought about this project. She has a responsibility as a senator to help the institution think this through and to see that it is brought to fruition, and she’s been part of this process from the beginning and is extremely knowledgeable about it. We’re very thankful to her for what she’s done. Sharyn.
O’HALLORAN (Ten., SIPA): Thank
you. I’d also like to thank President
Bollinger and Provost Brinkley for agreeing to participate in this, and I think
it’s very important that we open the dialogue, have a dialogue that’s ongoing
as this project unfolds. And we all feel
that this is a shared both responsibility and opportunity. I also want to thank Robert [Kasdin], who
just stepped out, but he’s here with us, and Maxine [
You know, many of you know me in a different hat. I’m a professor of political science in SIPA, and I also in my other capacity chair the Senate External Relations Committee and the Campus Planning Task Force. And many of you who have been part of the Senate process know that we’ve been engaged in this.
SEN. ADLER: Sharyn, it’s a little hard to hear you.
SEN. O’HALLORAN: Oh, I’m sorry. I can do this. Is that better? Okay. So as many of you know, the Senate has been part of this dialogue since 2002, since the first discussions were undertaken. And the town hall meeting is in many ways an update on this process, as well as a beginning, the ongoing dialogue that we hope to have with faculty, students, and the various constituents of the university who in fact will benefit from this project.
All right, Manhattanville. This is a huge project, and it will have profound implications for the university. It will define the constraints and the opportunities of the university for the next half century. So why would we do this? Why would we undertake something as large as this, or in this way?
Well, I don’t think I have to tell anybody that
In addition we have pretty much exhausted available space in
the vicinities of both the
Let me just show you: When you look at our possible
available spots to build on, the problem is we’re running out of space. So you can see (let me just see if my little
marker holds), we have a couple of opportunities. This is the
The other ones are here up at the uptown campus—the two Audubon sites that we have. If you know how those are allocated, those are both a research facilities for the faculty as well as hospital and other commercial research enterprises, combined enterprises.
So that’s not a whole lot of available space left for us to grow. So the question is, What do you do? If you’re limiting our constraints and abilities to expand, what would you think about this, how could we expand?
That’s the proposal.
Now this is a proposal that says we cannot expand in the way we did
before. We cannot expand in the ad hoc
way, building within the communities that we have. That’s exhausted. So this argument is that to maintain the
position of the world class university,
This is to include two components: first, about 4.7 million square feet of above-grade development for things such as research in institutions, housing for graduate students, and faculty, retail and commercial space, and other support facilities. In addition, there will be approximately 2 million square feet below grade. That is the ability to put everything that you can underneath, such as parking, support, any of the storage and loading docks, the research support space, and [the] centralized ”factory” for the cooling and chilling, as a way to minimize any other type of impact.
So what does this look like? What are the areas that we’re talking about? Now there are two areas that are defined here. The red area, we’re going to have to rezone. The red area defines the rezoning district: it includes all the way out to the piers that are being built by [the] Economic Development Corporation; it includes all the way up further to the north
The yellow area is the
So who are the neighbors? Who are we looking to become that we are going to integrate into the community? Well, north you have 3333 Broadway, which is the old Mitchell-Lama that is converting to market rents. In the east you have the Manhattanville Houses, which are low-income, subsidized housing projects. On the south you have 125th , that abuts very stable, subsidized, rent-controlled [apartments] or even condos in place, and then you have what’s being developed, as I stated, by the Economic Development Corporation—the Harlem Piers. It could be very much in the flavor of the Chelsea Piers, for those of you who are familiar with it.
So this is the proposed expansion area. That’s the proposed project. To do this, you know, you need to be able to
have the right to do this. So what’s the
current ownership? We own approximately
60, 64 percent of the total available lots.
I mean, government, other institutions (and that includes the MTA),
which is the big purple. So
Now to do any of this, to expand, to redevelop any of this, you have to go through a process of rezoning, that is the ability to utilize the space in an area differently from what it is. Currently it is zoned for light manufacturing in 1 and 2. And this was once a thriving manufacturing area, [with] automotive plants, dairies, lots of really interesting transportation hubs, but now I would say, as a result of some of the existing zoning, it has changed over to automotive uses (mostly car repair, gas stations), storage facilities, the Tuck-It-Away, Hudson [Moving and Storage], Despatch [Moving and Storage], and other low-end-job-generating activities.
In addition this is a very unique area—it has very few legal
residential units. And in the applicant
study it was approximated to be less than 100.
And just to give you a picture of a current situation, you can see on the top, this is the front part of 130th Street looking down toward the Hudson into the river, you can only see these very pretty arches that sort of frame the area, and then if you look from the subway, you see one- and two-story buildings, a lot of parking areas, the Floridita—which actually, no matter what happens, has to stay! And so, you know, if you think about Manhattan [and] the utilization of space, the opportunity to utilize space in an effective way that allows for activity, of jobs and residential or any type of other development, this is very much underutilized.
But as you say that, there’s also a lot of things that make
it very attractive to want to be there, or attractive to want to preserve. For example, the Riverside Viaduct on
We also have very lovely historic buildings, such as the
Well, what to do there? Well, this is some of the proposed [uses]. Think of this as a snapshot because this is changing every time. I’m sure that this is twelve versions back, but pretty close. This is what I’ve seen; this is from an August snapshot of what the current thinking is, and what some of the potential uses may be. Now, if you have to rezone from the light manufacturing, what are you going to rezone to? And again, if you want to use the space that allows us to have the research and the different types of facilities that we’re talking about, what we propose is to introduce in our zoning proposal an academic mixed-use special district. Okay?
Again, this will facilitate the construction of that research facility, of the different underground capacities that we’re speaking of. And it’s going to be developed over a series of phases. And [in] the first phase, you can see your moving from 125th up toward the 133rd area would take about fifteen years. And what are some of the proposed uses? Now I understand nobody will commit themselves to this, and this [is] just thought that I’ve heard, and so this is non-binding in any potential way. But some of these have slipped—I’ve heard them repeatedly, so I’m going to suggest these may be things that stay, but we’ll see.
One we have along Broadway is a research facility. You have your open space, which is actually very important for the area both in allowing circulation of air, using some ground temperature, which is actually important for some of the health considerations. The mind, brain and behavior building that has been much discussed. . . . Now I don’t know if this is just me, but if you look it looks like two lobes of a brain. And so I keep thinking, All right, put the mind guys on the left and the behavior guys on the right and then switch and see if the research changes—a natural controlled experiment as a case for “architecture and form dictates research.” So this might allow for those potentials.
We also have the poor School of the Arts, who have moved so many times. But this can be developed independent of any type of rezoning, and it was always to be a refurbishing of Prentis Hall, [with the] possibility of an annex. And then on the extension where the MacDonald’s is, the potential to build the high school for math, science and engineering. Again, that has been discussed. And that is actually a very interesting place because it allows for [a] Stuyvesant-type relationship with transportation in different modes. Again, this is tentative. We should think of this as a snapshot. It could very well change. The point is, it gives you an illustrative way of thinking about both space allocation and potential uses.
In discussing this, though, we’ve had lots of
conversations. In fact, the Senate
passed a resolution—when was that done, in 2003, Tom? Right—agreeing with these design principles,
I remember, and they were embodied in the notions of open space, access to the
waterfront, historic preservation, the things that I showed you about before
that we felt were important. And these
have been very much expressed in the ongoing changes of the design. [One principle is] green design and I know
Robert [Kasdin] has hired somebody to focus explicitly both on the Morningside
campus on green and sustainable construction, which I think is a wonderful
addition to this, and the transparency, openness that makes it inviting. [Inaudible],
which wasn’t actually the original intent but was how it developed. And also having active commerce and revitalization,
so we don’t have what you have on
Now this is lovely. To get there, however, we have to go through an approval process. Now this we have to rezone, and the rezoning requires that we follow or undertake a number of steps.
First is the Environmental Impact Statement, and Robert will speak to this. This is through the CEQR, the City Environmental Quality Review. Right? Also we have to go through the Uniform Land Use Review Process, or ULURP, and that’s the political approval process. The first one, the EIS, is very technical about the nature of the particular plan, traffic, light, air, what have you. The [second] one is the political approval process to change a piece of law or legislation. And the third is a state activity, what’s called a General Project Plan, that would go for eminent domain that would be used perhaps to compile some of the contiguous underground space, and perhaps some above-grade space as well.
Now, although it’s not legally mandated, I think anyone who
reads the paper knows that any large-scale development in
Now this is Maxine’s lovely, very useful chart that her staff put together, and you brought together, because I think that’s excellent—and I’ll stop it here so you can use it on the overhead—that shows in parallel the different processes that are being undertaken. You can see the first is the EIS from the CEQR, and then the second is the uniform land review process which again is the political process, and the third blue line represents the General Project Plan that’s done by the state.
So just to give you quickly where we are, we have gone through, last November actually, up until we get to the scoping hearings on the draft EIS statement, and hopefully we’ll be certified shortly and Robert will speak to this. And once that happens we start what’s called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which is an automatic 200-day clock that goes through a series of steps. You have Community Board Nine, which gives you a recommendation, not a binding vote, for yes or no. [The] Manhattan Borough President again gives a recommendation. You have the City Planning Commission, which is non-binding, but it actually can make recommendations on modifications, changes that need to take place within the proposal. And then you have a [City] Council vote, majority, and it goes up to the mayor [who makes a decision] which is then subject to [being overridden by a two-thirds majority of the Council].
Now what I’d like to do then is turn this over to Robert, who will speak both on the EIS, its implementation, where we are on the approval, and he can also speak to the long-term implications for its implementation as we move on out, and then Maxine will pick [up] on both the community benefits agreement, the different components of that with the LDC, and perhaps you’d like to speak again to the approval process. All right. Thank you.
SEN. DUBY: Thank you very much, Sharyn. So we’ll hold all the discussion and questions for a while, until at least the three. . . .
SEN. ROBERT KASDIN (Senior Executive Vice President): Following Sharyn on this is a very humbling experience. I think I should just shut up and sit down. Thank you, Sharyn. That was unbelievable. And we’ll be putting Sharyn on payroll pretty quickly.
SEN. O’HALLORAN: I’m on a different payroll.
SEN. KASDIN: Different payroll. I am going to be brief on the Environmental Impact Statement because this is a child that only a mother could love. As Sharyn said, under city and state law for a project of this scope we’ve got to work to produce an EIS. The actual statement is adopted first in draft by the Department of City Planning in this case and then finally by the city. So in a sense we work on its development, but is not our document, it’s a city document, and as we go into the ULURP process, there will be plenty of opportunities—and I’m sure they’ll be seized—to comment on aspects of the EIS that are incomplete, allegedly inaccurate or just dumb.
There are really two observations I’ll make about the EIS—or three. The first is, much to my chagrin it is geared around what is referred to as the “reasonable worst case scenario.” So that the statement itself is not going to look at the implications of what we actually expect to build, it’s going to look at the implications of the largest potential impact we could have in two time frames: one is 2015, and the other is 2030. These time frames don’t have meaning within the university’s plans, in the sense that we didn’t go and say, Pick these dates because something happens in 2015. This is the structure that we were told to look at, and in a sense it’s simply a snapshot at the interim step of 2015 and a snapshot at the sensible conclusion of the project in 2030. So you will find, I suspect, a conversation as we start moving through the publication of the draft EIS extraordinarily confusing because the university’s administration will be saying we want to build X, [while] the EIS will be looking at the impacts of our building X plus Y, and there are going to be a lot of people walking around saying, Why isn’t the university acknowledging what it’s planning to build as it says in the EIS?
So that’s one complexity that we’re really going to have to confront, and David Stone [Executive Vice President for Communications] is going to have to confront, in particular the difference between what we expect to build—that’s the illustrative case—and what in the EIS we are saying we should be studying, which is the reasonable worse case scenario.
The second aspect of it that is worth mentioning is [that] because there has [been] so much interest generated by the community in what is referred to as the 197A plan, we have not only examined the implications of what our project would do, but we have, in response to public comment, agreed that we will look at the potential implications of a number of other possible paths of action going forward. As many of you may know, the 197A plan is a plan adopted by the community board, or recommended by [the] community board, that lays out planning principles for the community area. What we’re proposing is actually concrete zoning changes. So it’s different levels of abstraction, but we have been working with Community Board 9, with City Planning, to try to take these planning principles and develop hypothetical zoning that would flow from [them], and then develop hypothetical massing that would flow from the hypothetical zoning, all in an effort to make sure that the discussions about our plans over the next six, nine months have as much information as possible on the table about what we’re talking about, about potential other scenarios. Needless to say because we’re extrapolating from [the] 197A plan, we don’t have as much granular detail of what that world will look like, but there’s enough to really come up with hypotheses and presumptions.
The city has taken the lead in that, working with Community Board 9, and that’s one of the ways in which our vision of this particular aspect of Community Board 9 and the community board’s 197 vision for the community will intersect—[as] two different alternatives.
A third thing worth mentioning—gosh, I feel like stopping right there. Why don’t I stop right there? So this really is [a] heavily articulated, regulated process that we have to go through before we open the rezoning. It’s a disclosure document, and by [their] very nature disclosure documents are supposed to portray the worst possible set of scenarios, and it will be open to public comment throughout.
And finally environmental review in this case means environment defined in the broadest possible terms, not in the context solely of sustainability, but in terms of traffic and noise and public health and socioeconomic implications, and there are twenty-some odd chapters. So it goes on and on and on. It’s been a true professional pleasure to be working on it.
MAXINE GRIFFITH (Executive
Vice President For Government And Community Affairs): Good afternoon. I want to try to be as gracious as President
Bollinger and Sharyn and introduce a couple of folks on my staff who work as
hard—actually they work harder than I do—and who do that on Manhattanville. I think Victoria Mason-Ailey is in the house.
As Robert said, this is a land review process. And that’s part of what ends up being so
complicated. In reality what all of
these decisionmakers are looking at is the proposed uses appropriate for this
land. They are supposedly not looking at
this as the architecture, but it used to be manufacturing, [and] now we want to
make it academic mixed use—is that an appropriate use? And once the zoning goes through, if for some
I’ve been asked to speak about the community benefits
process. Back in the early 1600s when I
first got into this business, we didn’t call it that. Whenever a [inaudible] project went through, there was an assumption that the
developer would try to accommodate the community in some way with the
project. In some cases it might be some
low-income housing, in other cases it might be fixing up a park, etc. It was done very informally, but it was
usually done. With this city
administration, what’s been decided is, That’s great, but it’s not as
transparent as perhaps it can be. At the
end of the process there’s not one document that everybody can look at on the
Web and say, Oh, I see what
So this city administration has asked, and [for] each of the large-scale projects where they’ve asked the developer to enter into these agreements, they’ve done it in a slightly different way. In our case what they’ve said is, Hold up, don’t begin conversations with the community yet. Let us develop an entity that can formally have these conversations with you, and that is formally representative of the community. And that’s the Local Development Corporation that Sharyn mentioned. They ask the community board to be the catalyst in doing this, [and] they gave the community board consultant assistance. Ron Schiffman, who many of you know from Pratt, was part of that consultant assistance. They formed it legally, and then they spent quite a bit of time because it’s a tremendously challenging task forming that entity. I think it was legally formed almost a year ago, but once it was legally formed, there was still a very long process to figure out who was going to represent the various sectors in the community.
We weren’t directly involved, but as I understand it, for instance, all the small property owners, or many of them, got together to decide who should represent them. The same with public housing tenants, etc. So that process took about a year.
We were finally able to meet with the Local Development Corporation last June. It was a very good meeting, set[ting] some ground rules, but there was one aspect that had not been taken into account—that is the elected officials. The elected officials obviously also represent the community. They came to the meeting and asked how their input was going to be factored in. And so the Local Development Corporation and the elected officials then spent the summer working that through. For a bunch of technical reasons having to do with the City Charter, it wasn’t as direct and easy as it could have been.
That process is kind of still happening. Not every elected official has appointed
someone to the Local Development Corporation, plus the LDC determined that it
should have some public meetings itself. So [at] the end of September they had
their first town hall meeting to get input from their constituents about what
they would like to see
After talking to a number of community leaders and others—obviously in our job we talk to those guys all the time—and talking informally even to some LDC members, we decided that, frankly, after waiting for this point a year and a half, it might be useful to get the conversation going in some way. So Robert and I recently sent a letter to the LDC saying, What about these things? These are some things we’ve been thinking about that we think would be of use to the community, benefits that connect directly with the university’s strengths in education, etc.—not prescriptive, just saying, Let’s get the conversation started.
We have not gotten a formal reply, but we’ve gotten a number of informal communications that say, Good idea, thanks a lot, we’re going to take a look at this. Not to say they’re going to agree with all or any of it, but it started the conversation going. And again, as we said earlier, this community benefits agreement is not legally connected with the land use review. As a matter of fact, it has to be disconnected from the land use review. But it’s an important part of the conversation, and we’re very pleased finally to be in that dialogue.
And with that probably I should stop so we have plenty of time for questions. Oh, I forgot, I too brought little drawings of what you see above for those of you who are interested in understanding this process in detail, and it’s also on our Website.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Great. So now we’ll open it for questions, comments, and this can be a very good opportunity for further information and comment and discussions.
Hello, my name is Nasozi Kakembo. I’m in
my first year in the urban planning program here at
SEN. O’HALLORAN: I can answer. Specifically there are two things that are most important, that are the jobs and job training. Now the specifics then—should we . . .exactly . . . there we go.
SEN. KASDIN: We alternate.
SEN. O’HALLORAN: We alternate. Yes.
SEN. KASDIN: If I can reframe your question slightly, because we don’t think of jobs as a community benefit. Currently there are a bit over 1000 jobs in the area we’re proposing to rezone. Over the last generation we’ve seen a decline in the number of private sector jobs, and some of those jobs have been replaced with government jobs. In the 3218 building on the east side of Broadway, NYPD is now using it, HPD is now using it. On the other side we’ve got Con Edison—I’m sorry, the MTA—as a major employer. So that we’ve seen a decline in private sector jobs, and we have been making as we’ve been buying property every effort, and in many cases successful efforts, to work with owners to relocate within the city.
There is one owner, and I think I could say it publicly, Skyline, who placed the protection of their employees’ jobs among their highest priorities, and really made it clear to us from the very beginning of discussions that preserving the jobs for the people who have the jobs was going to be important to them. And I have to say that anyone who works for the owners of Skyline really is very fortunate, because they’re people with great values.
Other people have as well talked about their desire to
locate within the city, and we’ve been working to find property for them, in
part because of tax reasons—that if we buy the property elsewhere and we swap
properties, they don’t have to take a tax hit simply for selling to us. But
there is an effort again and again by many of the private sector employers in
the area to preserve jobs and preserve them in
The truth of the matter is, we think that at full buildout, we’ll be looking at about 7000 university jobs, and they will go the full spectrum from unskilled workers to—
SEN. KASDIN: Yes, unskilled workers to tenured faculty. As you know, university employment, regardless of where you are in the spectrum, comes with the full package of benefits and retirement benefits. So that we think that. . . .
END OF SIDE ONE OF THE TAPE
. . . .Not because of the community benefit negotiations,
but by virtue of the studies we’ve been doing about how many jobs we think
we’ll be creating, there will be an enormous net gain to the community. What Maxine just commented and the mike
didn’t pick up is another advantage of this, that
Now the piece of this that really does speak to community
benefits is, How can we provide people in the surrounding communities with an
opportunity to get jobs at
It’s going to be low-tech things like a visit to the university’s group of HR officers about a month ago, in which I talked about how it’s really a strategic value of this university to make sure that people from our communities, the communities in which we live, get equal shots at jobs at Columbia.
And then there are going to be opportunities that really
probably will be part of community benefit discussions, like apprenticeship
programs. And frankly, these are things
I think we look forward to doing for the community. This is one of those great paradoxes. I live with the confidence that when we sit
down and talk to the LDC about what we and the community could do together, the
gap will be very small. We may argue
about whether this technique or that technique works, or about whether the
amount in dollar terms should be this or that, but the values that I’ve heard
others articulate about what they want from
SEN. LAXMI BAXI (Nonten., CUMC): Hi. Dr. Baxi from the uptown campus, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I do not know whether there is any process or any arrangement for space for the faculty and the students in the uptown campus in this Manhattanville project. The reason I am raising this issue [is], there appears to be a significant shortage of space [at the] uptown campus for the faculty as well as the students. Is there any connection, or is there any possibility that this might be—
PRES. BOLLINGER: As you can tell by the description of the
uses in phase one, that does not by any means exhaust the space that’s
available for the university. Lee
Goldman is the new executive vice president for health sciences, and just
started in July. One of the things that
he wants to undertake immediately is a major space analysis for health sciences
There are some other spaces around
SEN. KASDIN: You want to talk about mind/brain/behavior?
PRES. BOLLINGER: Mind/brain/behavior is obviously drawing a
significant number of scientists and researchers and staff and offices,
KYLE MUSHKIN: Hi, my name is Kyle Mushkin. I’m a second-year dual-degree student with Social Work and Public Health. I was wondering what provisions you made for rehousing displaced residents in the zone.
SEN. KASDIN: We have said—first, one of the unfortunate phenomena in a project like this is the amount of fear, justified and [inaudible] unjustified, that really starts to pervade the circumstances. And as you can tell from the description of phase one or the description of the projects and then where phase one is, with most of the residents, and it’s 132 residential units, and we have not done a census of how many people live in each. They’re not our property; it wouldn’t be appropriate. They’re in the northeast corner. So we would not expect any displacement to be necessary for almost a decade at a minimum. And I have had people come up to me and say that they’ve been told that Columbia’s going to be evicting them this summer, this winter, this spring. And that’s one of the communication challenges we have, especially when people are talking about homes—continuing to get honest, direct information out there.
We have said that we are committed to making sure that
anyone who’s living in the project area who would be displaced by our project
would be relocated at
SEN. GRACIELA CHICHILNISKI (Ten., A&S/SS): To follow up on the question a little bit, at the beginning of the presentation there was one of the items listed and there was the use of eminent domain. So to the extent that you have vocalized, there will be a mutually agreeable commitment, if I understood this correctly, with residents that may be displaced, to either obtain for them equivalent space or compensate them monetarily for that. What is and what is projected to be the use of eminent domain issues, which if I understand this correctly, but I could be wrong, eminent domain issues are connected to involuntary displacement. I could be wrong on this, and if so I apologize.
PRES. BOLLINGER: No, you’re right. Eminent domain is an official process by which people who hold property that could be used for public purposes, that property can be taken and they’re paid full value for their property. I have said throughout the process that we would be pursuing the option of eminent domain. And we have done that. The emphasis is to be put on the word option. We have not initiated any eminent domain proceedings against any property owner. So it’s simply to make sure that the university has available to it, should it be appropriate, the option to pursue eminent domain.
We do not know whether or not that will materialize. We are very pleased with the progress that has been made—steady and very, very extensive progress—in working with owners of properties to sell them to Columbia on terms that I think everyone would agree looking at this are extremely fair. I would say we’ve gone about it in a very generous way.
Eminent domain is something that has captured a lot of attention in the past few years, and the sort of image that has been associated with it as sort of unfair taking of homes from people, especially when it’s done for economic purposes. It’s extremely important to keep in mind that the function of eminent domain is really to serve public purposes and to make sure that private property is not used to the point where it can interfere with public purposes.
So just to re-emphasize, we have only taken steps to keep the option of eminent domain a possibility. We really hope never to have to turn to eminent domain. As it looks now, that may well be the case, but we don’t know for sure. And finally, eminent domain is something that should be thought of in its best sense as well as in the poorest sense, but in the best sense for us to make sure that public purposes can be realized.
SEN. CHICHILNISKI: I appreciate very much the explanation, and I
do understand and sympathize of course with the objective of trying to somehow
balance important private marketing drifts with an interest of a not-for-profit
organization that you so clearly and so attractively articulate. So I agree with everything, all the
words. My question is, Given that you
are considering this, obviously you are keeping the option open exactly as you
said, who gives us,
PRES. BOLLINGER: So let me just say before turning it over to Maxine to add to what I said: We are very much aware of the history that precedes us with respect to space and relations with communities and also the historical moment that—you know, we all think of 1968. But that was an historical moment of a clash of different world views about development. And one view was a very top-down kind of use of power to develop space, and another world view was that communities should be able to control their own spaces. And out of that clash and out of that particular historical moment, there was a very important—across the United States—very important shift towards greater community involvement in space development, not by any means a stopping of development, but a greater participation by communities.
That is the process we have been engaged in. And we’ve gone at it with an attitude and a sense of good faith and reasonableness and desire really to help and work with the communities that I just want to affirm in a statement now as to eminent domain and the invoking of it. I’m going to ask Maxine to add some things.
So it is not a process that we can simply initiate, write a check and someone gives us their property. We actually petition the state to allow us to do this, and the state will weigh many, many elements including the wishes of community [and] elected officials, and others. I would also just point out, because you raise the question related to residential [use], indeed most of the property, including the property that we are still negotiating with property owners for, is not residential. It is, again, those stores and automotive repair places that were discussed before. So not that it is necessarily a different process, but just to point out that there’s really a very small number of residential units and most of the property is manufacturing.
SEN. MAYA TOLSTOY (Research Officers): I’m a research scientist at Lamont Doherty. I wasn’t quite clear from the early plans: Is the MTA bus depot staying there?
SEN. KASDIN: It is part of the area which we seek to rezone. Whether or not it stays there is not totally our choice.
SEN. TOLSTOY: Because one of the things we’ve been discussing actually in the Physical Development Committee a couple of years ago and the Commission on the Status of Women is childcare options. And I know there are recent scientific studies that show there are significant serious health consequences for young children living within three blocks of a bus depot. So I think if it stays there, then Manhattanville is probably off the table for childcare.
SEN. KASDIN: As you know, there are really two separate questions. One is a controversy about whether the MTA is fulfilling what is perceived as its commitments to make the bus terminal use occupied by bus—God, that syntax is terrible! One is what is perceived as the MTA’s commitment to use cleaner buses, and leave them, and park them there, and service them there, and that in itself would be a major step forward in the health profile. The second is, given there’s a lot of controversy, and frankly I think our interest and a lot of the interest being articulated by northern Manhattan [groups] that are aligned in this, when you look at the distribution of bus depots on the island of Manhattan, I believe it’s five out of six of them are in Harlem. And there’s a sense that there’s a lack of equity there.
But what we believe and I think what we will demonstrate in the context of community benefits, what we’ve already demonstrated through the School of Public Health, and what we will demonstrate in the community benefits discussions is that we are profoundly committed to improving the health profiles of everyone who lives in our community. And there are severe asthma problems that have gotten a bit better than they were, but they’re still not nearly where they should be.
SHARON WEINER: My name is Sharon Weiner, and I’m a joint degree student with Urban Planning and Public Health. And I would like to better understand why you feel it’s necessary to obtain 100 percent of the site for development, and also, have you considered any alternatives to that option?
SEN. KASDIN: Let me answer that in two different
parts. One is that my sense, and we’ll
see how the environmental impact statement actually comes out, is that a lot of
the trends that have been sweeping across northern
So I think the one question is, Would the community necessarily be better served in terms of adverse impact if we didn’t have all of it? And my sense is that the trends are really going in the same direction, and our development may accelerate one a little bit more, may make one a little bit more serious, but the underlying trajectory is the same.
The second question you’re asking is really, Why all? Put aside the implications. And I think I have two answers for that. When President Bollinger first was talking to
us about his strategic vision to build here, we were operating in a context
And that has two implications. One is [that] one can never improve community relations if they’re constantly punctuated by fights about construction. And two, that kind of scattershot approach to development is inconsistent with really best practices in planning. You’re then building building X on this site not because you really believe it should be on this site, but because you need building X, and you need it as big as it can be, [and] you don’t have another site.
So the effort to build in Manhattanville is really designed among other things to address these two problems. One, can we get in a situation working with the communities where Columbia’s space needs are thought through, are addressed, and we can frankly go on to building the kind of partnership which I think the students, faculty and staff at Columbia desire with the community, and which the community would find beneficial to it?
And two, could we get away from this need to build as much as possible on any empty site because frankly we didn’t know if another site was going to become available. Now the less we build in Manhattanville, the more we shorten the time and horizon on both counts. We end up not taking care of our space needs for a generation or two, but saying, Oh that’s five or ten years, we’ll be fine; and then we’re back in the soup. And five or ten years, I’ve discovered as I get older, go faster and faster.
And the second, really, is that I would argue that, and people could disagree in good faith, that having warehouses and moving [and] storage in those locations is simply not the highest and best use. And at this point when you look at who remains there, they are largely, overwhelmingly, except for the MTA, warehouse and storage. And the question really is (and my interests are clear in this. I’m hardly impartial), Do I think that from a planning perspective that’s the appropriate place for that? And I think the answer is no.
It also allows us to look at 125th Street, Broadway and 12th Avenue, and say, Since we’re proposing to do all this, let’s make sure that at grade, at the ground floor, and up to as much as two floors in most areas, that that can all be community space in the sense of being used for retail or community uses or clinics, etc. That’s something we can’t do if we have a block-by-block, building-by-building situation.
And even this community benefits discussion that we hope will get started very quickly, because we’re projecting over a 25-30-year span a very major development, we are able then to frankly justify a very major contribution. So for all of those reasons and for the ones that Robert delineated, I think that this is a very good way to have this conversation about space. And again, as with eminent domain, this is not a one-way conversation. I was a planning commissioner for six years, and honestly, we listen to both sides, and often what comes out of it is something of a compromise, modification or a betterment of the plan.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Robert and Maxine have really laid out, I think, a really comprehensive answer. I mean, it’s just that explanation for this [inaudible]. I would only add two things. One is that from the beginning we want to try to have as much as possible a campus, the feeling of a campus, a university presence. Not simply a building here and a building there, but actually a university community. And the great other desire is to have that community, that university campus, be part of and intermingled with the neighborhoods around, and to do that in a way that is consistent with the sensibilities of the time we live in.
So then we had to think about how to weave this into the community. And we had from the very beginning a community advisory group, and many other discussions with people throughout the city, but especially in the local area, and we changed the concept of the “campus” area to sort of reflect a greater engagement and interlocking sense with the community: so, for example, having retail along the ground floor at 125th Street and then up Broadway; keeping the streets that go from Broadway over to Twelfth Avenue open, maintaining the framing of the water that comes from the viaducts by moving back the buildings somewhat from the sidewalks so that from Broadway you get that sense of an arched view of the water; many other things as well.
So this is part of what we might think of as the great genius, the possible genius here, of creating something that is a campus and serves the university in the way that only that can, with being more integrated into the community. And the last thing I’d say is that having the prospect of a campus, something that very few people in this room will be part of the future thinking of, but we will begin that thinking, having something that is a continuous process within the university about how to use it, how to build it, how to weave it in, is of immense value to the community just in terms of creating Columbia’s own sense of what it wants to be—because it will from now on be using this as the occasion for identifying the future of Columbia. And that’s a gift to an institution and its future that I think is extremely important. Yes, in the far back.
SEN. JOHN ALLEGRANTE
(Fac., TC): Thank you very much. John Allegrante, member of the Senate from
Teachers College, and also on the faculty at Mailman School of Public Health. First of all, I want to thank Sharyn, Maxine
and Robert for the very illuminating presentation today. Thank you very
much. My question is this:
PRES. BOLLINGER: Right. I mean I think I want to be very direct about this. There’s no point in being otherwise. I mean, we’re not prepared to give away space to affiliates, because we really are separate institutions in that sense. However, it may be that it is in the intellectual, educational interests of Columbia to work with with affiliates and to develop things that are financially viable from both sides, but also, most importantly, intellectually viable.
From my point of view, I think it’s an easy yes to the question, quite apart from [the question of whether] Teachers College or UTS [will] actually move to Manhattanville, to which I say, We have no plans for that. Will these affiliates benefit from the surrounding intellectual vitality and just general sense of energy that will be created in the community? I think absolutely, an enormous benefit.
I know we’re all really, really constrained for space. I know Teachers College is, obviously, and every place else.
SEN. SHARON MARCUS
(Ten., A&S/HUM): I want to follow up
on the last thread we’ve been discussing, just to ask how this is going to
PRES. BOLLINGER: There is thought. And it’s been going on for some time, and that is part of what I think will go on for a long time now. That is, how to conceive of adjacency of disciplines, how to think of the uses of spaces by students in different areas, how to bring faculty together. You know, one of the things I think is really important is to walk that route because it seems like it’s much farther than in fact it is. I mean, it seems in the abstract from the distance. . . Part of our green sustainability thinking should be, Everybody has to get in better shape. You know, I mean, we’ll save more energy.
There will be obviously shuttle services, especially with
SEN. KASDIN: And
PRES. BOLLINGER: And that’s right, and the alternatives—I mean this is the closest we can get unless Teachers College wants to give us Teachers College! [Laughter] So I guess the second point is that we are not thinking of this as a science campus. You will hear more in the next several weeks about other possible uses, and certain things are happening, falling into place. It’s fantastic that they are, because it’s often very difficult to get anyone to move to a new campus. Harvard has certainly found that difficulty, and we’ve been very fortunate in finding people who were prepared to be part of phase one.
But I think we’ll find that the kind of intellectual mix there will have its own vitality, its own interdisciplinary nature, and we’ll go from there.
SEN. PAIGE WEST
(Fac., Barn.): Hi there. I’m Paige
West. I’m a faculty senator. It seems clear that the administration and
the planners have thought about open green spaces, and I want to applaud you
for that. That’s wonderful. But I’m wondering if you could speak a bit
about green building design and such. I
had the opportunity this summer to spend about a month with someone who was
quite involved in the
SEN. KASDIN: I’d like to talk just a little bit about that, and I’ll explain why. There’s a growing sense on campus among students, faculty, staff that the university, like all actors at this point early in the 21st century, needs to redouble its focus on their environmental footprint. Yesterday President Bollinger spoke at the National Campus Sustainability Day. We’ve observed [this] before the national campus sustainability day, but there’s an effort being led by Nilda Mesa, who we hired to be director of environmental stewardship, to really broaden the discussion about environmental sustainability and stewardship, and make the roots go very deep, because any time you have an initiative, the question is, When the person leaves, does the initiative die?
Part of this has to be greater attention to green development. And that green development will come in green designs in development. That attention will come in everything from those capital investments that have positive life cycle payoffs, and God bless $70 oil because it does a lot for your rate of return on investing in capital. But it will also be just flat-out expenditures because it’s the right thing.
We are currently thinking among ourselves about the range of
options. We’re going to want to open that discussion more broadly within the
university community, and we’re going to want to talk to the people of
ANOTHER VOICE: Where exactly is the current date relative to these time lines on this green . . .?
SEN. KASDIN: The driver of the time line is the completion, the certification by the Department of City Planning that the draft Environmental Impact Statement is complete. If you look at the red line—
ANOTHER VOICE: Right.
SEN. KASDIN: There’s an arrow pointing to the left, to EIS certification. I would say we’re in the heart of that arrow.
ANOTHER VOICE: Is the EIS certified?
SEN. KASDIN: We are not yet certified, but we’re approaching it quickly. And if anyone’s in the audience and thinks I’m doing this wrong, please tell me. That’s okay.
PRES. BOLLINGER: One last question. Dick?
SEN. RICHARD BULLIET (Ten.,
A&S/SS): Could you bring us up to date on the relation
to the West Harlem Piers and to commuter questions? Earlier on there was the story of possibly a
ferry service or even a Metro North service, and then of course there’s the bus
lines that would go in that direction. I
know that that isn’t
We are taking part in conversations at the state and local levels where these questions are being parsed through and costed out. We are not the main driver or obviously the main player, but we consider ourselves real stakeholders, and the idea of the east-west connection is tremendously important, I think, not only to us but to the community.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Sharyn, you want to wrap up or . . .?
SEN. O’HALLORAN: So I just wanted to say that this was a beginning or the continuation of our dialogue. We’ll be going through this process, and we’ll be reporting back to the Senate on a regular basis with this, with the Campus Planning Task Force as well as the External Relations Committee. And I would just like to thank everyone for attending, and then Robert and Maxine and President Bollinger for their help. Thank you.
PRES. BOLLINGER: Thank you very much, everybody. We appreciate it.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff