[Carolyn Birden’s report (below) more or less gives the modus operandi of the LDC (Local Development Corporation) that was supposed to be representing the community interests under attack by Columbia. Add the fact that the ‘pro bono’ legal counsel assigned to represent the committee is a major development lawyer who usually receives hundreds of thousands in compensation for his efforts (and may yet so benefit). Again, it is too bad that J. Raymond Jones is not still around to protect Harlem from such things. The report below Carolyn’s is the latest development following upon the protest resignation of 3 members from the LDC. Ray always warned us against accepting crumbs off the table — and those who would prefer to stay on the plantation. We shall not forget. Ed Kent]


A correction to the press release (below) from Pat Jones and Susan Russell: the “open public” sessions at meetings of the LDC were very brief, held before the sessions actually began, and when the public comment period was over, the public has to leave: meetings were, and are, conducted in private, and members of the LDC critical of its workings are threatened with expulsion. There have been attempts to remove community representatives from the LDC, engineered by representatives of the politicians appointed to the LDC, and all in all the workings of the LDC are not very democratic. (Russell represents Jackson, for instance.) Despite requests by members of the community, audio tapes, detailed minutes, or video recordings of the meetings are not available to the public, and among politicians only Bill Perkins remains as an advocate of community input and community needs in the unseemly push by Columbia to steamroller the West Harlem area and people.

It’s sad, because when Scott Stringer reworked the Community Boards and placed his own choices on them, we thought that at the least he would then pay attention to their recommendations. Not so: CB9 has proposed (a unanimous vote) an alternative plan, 197A, to Columbia’s plan, but CU refuses to address the most fundamental issues of difference, such as its threat of using eminent domain to take over property it cannot acquire by the usual means.

CU also refuses to address the dangers posed by its planned biotech installations, its powerplants, its government research, and its very presence as a terrorist target in the midst of a residential area. (Although if CU has its way, the only occupants of the area will be CU faculty, hired pharmaceutical researchers, and students, and presumably the university doesn’t consider them in need of any special consideration as prospective terrorist targets.)

Carolyn M. Birden
Elected Listener Delegate
WBAI Local Station Board



Committee Favors 125th St. Rezoning With Amendments
By Samantha Saly

Community Board 9 committee members voted to approve the Department of City Planning’s proposal to change the face of 125th Street at a public hearing Monday evening.

The board’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure committee voted 11 in favor, one opposed, with one abstention, and passed a resolution to amend the city’s rezoning proposal. Along with CB10 and CB11—whose districts would also be impacted by rezoning­—the entire board will hold a final vote on Wednesday, as prescribed by ULURP bylaws. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer will then have 30 days to submit his recommendation about the plan, taking into account the decisions of the community boards.

“I think it’s in our best interest to negotiate with city planning and to say yes with conditions. We’re actually winning and if we vote no, we’ll make it harder for ourselves,” CB9 member Savona Bailey McClain said. “We lost with Columbia a lot of what we want, and this is our chance to get something.”

CB9’s amendment resolution addressed the size of the rezoning coverage area, affordable housing, and building-height restrictions in the city’s plan.

A few months ago, the board “never entertained the comment that there would be luxury condominiums on 125th Street,” CB9 member Vicky Gholson, Ph.D. said. Now, there is a “prevailing attitude that there are certain things that are going to be pushed through regardless of what the community wants.”

Citing the neighborhood’s responsibility to low-income families, CB9 called for the commission’s proposal to increase the required amount of affordable housing in new residential developments.

“Since the Harlem Renaissance, there has been another renaissance taking place,” said John-Martin Green, chair of the arts and culture committee on the West Harlem Local Development Corporation. “This one seems to be not driven by art and culture but by gentrification.”

The resolution calls for the commission’s rezoning plan to include the “New Amsterdam Special District,” which extends from the south side of 126th Street to 130th Street between Amsterdam and Morningside/Convent Avenue.

CB9 also requested that the city lower building-height requirements and increase efforts to cultivate consistent streetscape design throughout the 125th Street corridor.
Although board members discussed previous attempts to extend the rezoning area further west, all the way to the Hudson River, the board’s resolution did not include such provisions.

“At the end of the day, it’s a predestined plan and they’re going to do what they are going to do,” CB9 member Yvonne Stennett said.

In an effort to encourage the arts within the 125th Street corridor, the city’s proposal requires local business owners to allot floor space for arts-and-entertainment use, but CB9 expressed concern that this initiative only applies to Central Harlem. CB9’s resolution addressed this issue, asking that those provisions be expanded further west and modified to include space allocations for local businesses as well as arts programs.
“What we want is the benefits that they’re putting in the core [Central Harlem]. We want for the west,” Bailey-McClain said.

During the hearing, CB9 also approved further amendments to the resolution they had already prepared. These additions seek to ensure that new buildings along the 125th Street corridor would meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “Silver” standards in accord with Mayor Bloomberg’s PlanNYC. In addition, the board entreatied the city to make a concerted effort in supporting female, minority, and disadvantaged business owners.

“We want to establish some sort of consensus, but we have to, in the end, do what is best for this district,” CB9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Montblanc said.

Samantha Saly can be reached at news@columbiaspectator.com.
TAGS: community board 9, Rezoning

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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