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Columbia University Expansion Project

Continued from here.

To ensure that resident concerns were incorporated into the CBA asks developed by the LDC, WE ACT organizing staff worked with community members throughout West Harlem. Our on-the-ground organizing work targeted key residential buildings, including 3333 Broadway, Grant Houses, Manhattanville Houses and 3250 Broadway. At each of these locations, WE ACT organized workshops for residents to learn about the planned expansion, voice their concerns and leave with tools for participating in the public review process. A series of four workshops was held in Spring 2007, and a second series was held in Fall 2007. WE ACT worked with tenant organizations to develop a list of demands to share with the LDC. Through our initial door knocking and postcard campaign, WE ACT determined that many residents were already feeling the pressures of development and gentrification in West Harlem. To address these issues identified by community residents, we collaborated with NYC Eviction Intervention Services, Harlem Legal Services and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) to provide support to residents who are likely to be displaced due to secondary displacement and gentrification.

WE ACT participated directly in the ULURP by giving testimony on waterfront access, housing issues, public health, energy, green building, construction mitigation, bioresearch, and the creation of training programs for biotech jobs at each of the ULURP’s public hearings. WE ACT also reached out to community members and equipped them to participate in the hearing with fact sheets, sample testimony and talking points around areas of concern. In preparation for the City Council public hearing, WE ACT organized a bus for elderly and disabled residents of West Harlem so that they could attend the hearing downtown. We also ensured that the City Council accommodated elderly and disabled residents at the hearing by allowing them to testify early in the day.
As an environmental justice leader, WE ACT has evaluated Columbia’s expansion plan and responded to it with a critical analysis of environmental deficiencies and our recommendations for improvement. Our key recommendations to Columbia University include:
  • Incorporate campus designs that would promote easy public access to the waterfront park and other community amenities such as parks, open space, and Fairway Market.
  • Use best available technology equipment and best pollution control technology as well as “clean” alternative fuels and energy on all emissions sources including planned power plants, cogeneration facility, emergency generator and campus vehicle fleets.
  • Use best available technology and best practices on all aspects of construction (including noise and vibration reduction, limit construction activity during the day, use construction curtains to minimize dust and debris).
  • Implement a zero-waste policy, including salvaging of building material, recycling and composting.
  • Ensure that any relocation of the MTA Manhattanville Bus Depot will be built to LEED Gold standards including pollution controls, will not direct building exhaust to residential or recreational sites, and will not result in the reopening of the Amsterdam Bus Depot.
  • Ensure that the solid waste disposal needs of expansion-associated population will be met so that additional pollution sources will not be brought to bear on the West Harlem community.

New York City Planning Commission: Final Environmental Impact Statement for Manhattanville in West Harlem Rezoning and Academic Mixed-Use Development

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