Thursday, September 4, 2008

J. Reyes-Montblanc Before the Empire State Development Corporation Public Hearing on Columbia University Expansion and Eminent Domain 4Sep08

The HDFC Council
601 West 136th Street, Suite 1, New York, NY 10031-8101
Tel: (212) 922-6425 Fax: 212-926-1765
Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, President

J. Reyes-Montblanc


The Empire State Development Corporation
Public Hearing
Columbia Expansion, Blight Studies and Eminent Domain

September 4th, 2008

Good afternoon, my name is Jordi Reyes-Montblanc and I am the President of the HDFC Council a City-wide association of Housing Development Fund Cooperatives for persons of low and middle income. Within Community District 9 there are not less that 140 HDFC Cooperatives and over 30 Tenant Interim Lease buildings that will become HDFC Cooperatives in the next several years. The HDFCs represent the largest number of home owners, property tax payers and whose financial impact in the District’s exceeds $15 million a year.

As the major stakeholders in the whole area of West Harlem, from West 110th Street to West 155th Street and from a line that includes, Manhattan Ave., Morningside Ave., St. Nicholas Ave., Bradhurst Ave., the west at 145th Street follows Edgecombe Ave., to West 155th Street then West to the Hudson River, we want to express our position regarding these proceedings.

The General Project Plan is flawed as already testify by many locals including the Chairwoman of Community Board 9, and many others so I will not bore myself or you by repeating what has already been said so loquaciously by others.

Regarding the Neighborhood Conditions Studies upon which the ESDC has declared the West Manhattanville area as “Blighted” we believe it to be a total fabrication, purposely done to satisfy the University of Columbia’s ambitions and not for the good of the Community, or the City.

The invocation of Eminent Domain for the benefit of a private, well endowed institution is obscene in and by itself. Applying Eminent Domain to privately owned property of any kind seems to go against everything this Country stands for and most definitely against the principles laid down by our Founding Fathers who considered private property as sacrosanct.

The use of Eminent Domain on residential buildings two of which are Tenant Interim Lease buildings that will become HDFC Cooperatives, is a particular odious action bordering on the criminal not to mention immoral.

Where is the much vaulted institutional integrity and honor when it proceeds in this fashion?

J. Reyes-Montblanc

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