Community Voices

Community Voices

Essays from Community Members


 Nellie Bailey, co-founder of the Harlem Tenants Council, CPC steering member:Our Last Stand

“We must resist. We must mount a campaign of resistance and fight back because if we don’t, we will not be here, our children will not be here and we will not recognize this place. We have no other alternative but to fight back and we must do it together.” read the whole article


 Fred Danesh, Manhattanville resident, CPC steering member. Columbia’s Fatal Flaw

“[Columbia’s presentation] was notable for the absence of serious consideration of the 197-a plan. I think the reason for that is clear. It wasn’t because that plan was not drafted with the help of competent and serious and thoughtful professionals. It was. It was not that that plan did not offer them any opportunity for development. It did. The real reason from the perspective of Columbia’s Board of Trustees and administrators is that that plan had a basic fatal flaw. It put the interest of the community above that of any private developer.” read the whole article


 Tom DeMott, Manhattanville resident; member of the CPC, the Tenants Alliance, and the West Harlem Coalition: Up Against the Stonewall

“…We want to show the students and people who are willing to talk to us, that there is something here worth preserving . . . the CPC and their allies are not playing. They’re engaged in a populist uprising of a grander sort. This remarkably diverse group of people is demanding candor from power.” read the whole article


Tamara Gayer , 638 West 131 Hint House Artist Collective; CPC steering member. The Harlem Arts Scene

“The scoping document conveys this impression that Columbia is going to bring this cultural capital to an area which doesn’t really have it. And we’re not only talking about making the history of Harlem arts, which is incredibly vibrant, but the presence of the Harlem arts which we are a very important part of.” read the whole article


Nell Geiser, Columbia College graduate (2006), member of Columbia University’s Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification: We Are All Manhattanville

“…If we are interested in finding out whose interests the University does serve, we might note the difference between the institution’s actions and its rhetoric. Columbia’s willingness to employ eminent domain and bulldoze an entire low-income community demonstrates the University’s blatant self-authorization to develop without the consent of those affected…” read the whole article…


Dr. Vicky Gholson, founder and executive director of Designed Environment for Experiential Learning; member of Community Board 9 in Manhattan. Harlem’s Cultural Legacy

“Columbia is a very dominating entity within the Harlem community. Its history and its legacy has not been one favorable to the Harlem community … [Columbia has offered] presentations … in a very business and formal fashion that undermine the struggle, the accomplishments, the celebration of the legacies of all the ethnicities that constitute the Harlem community.” read the whole article


 Tom Kappner, member of the 121st-122nd streets block association; CPC steering member. Statement at Community Board 9’s Town Hall on Columbia’s Plans

“Columbia does bear a special responsibility for the decimation of affordable housing in this community and it should not be surprised at being singled out. …it needs to address the unresolved issues from its past expansions before entering into a new round. We again call upon Columbia to stabilize the residential patterns in our neighborhood and we call upon this Board to use its good offices to urge Columbia to do its share in addressing the housing crisis for which they are in large measure responsible.”read the whole article


Mark Levine, Community Board 12 member. Columbia’s History of Broken Promises

I’m sorry to say that in at least two critical fronts the news is not good and there is cause for concern. The first is a pattern Columbia has of reneging on the very promises that it makes in a community to win its support during the expansion. And the second is what I would call obsession with secrecy in the area that’s so critical of safety around biomedical and biotechnical research—a significant amount. … We have not been able to trust Columbia on the Audubon project. There’s no reason we can trust them here on Manhattanville.” read the whole article


Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, Chairman of Community Board 9 in Manhattan. Myths of the Columbia Expansion Plan

“The impact on affordable housing for West Harlem residents income levels will be catastrophic and tenant displacement in Manhattanville and Hamilton Heights are already beginning to be felt not only in CB9M but also in the adjacent CB10M (Central Harlem) and CB12M (Washington Heights/Inwood) districts..” read the whole article


Robert Rosello, board member of 3289 Broadway tenants association; CPC steering member. The Heart and Soul of Manhattanville.

“I’m here with everyone from my building so that everyone knows that we are here united. We are here together. We are educated and we are informed. We are here to fight this plan as it stands as long as it threatens our homes, our businesses and our community.” read the whole article


Anne Whitman, owner of Hudson Moving and Storage; member of Community Board 9. Preserving Manhattanville

One hundred percent of my employees are either women or minorities. The Columbia plan injures women and minorities and I don’t accept mitigation. I accept avoidance.” read the whole article

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