Columbia University president Lee Bollinger’s plan to use eminent domain to obtain land for a new campus in the Manhattanville section of West Harlem faces new opposition from the Libertarian Party of New York (LPNY) led by Columbia College alumni.
State Chair Richard Cooper, Christopher Garvey and Mark Axinn condemn the University’s resort to the Empire State Development Corporation to condemn property-owners who will not sell voluntarily from West 125th to 133rd Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue.
The ESDC designated the area as “blighted.” Cooper responds, “Hands off Harlem!”
Cooper notes that he previously fought SUNY-Stony Brook’s eminent domain grab of Flowerfields in St. James. “Eminent domain is a legalized assault on tenants, taxpayers and property-owners. Moses said to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.” The Libertarian Party says to our modern pharaohs, the politicians and ureaucrats, “Let the people stay.” Bollinger cites our beloved Columbia’s educational mission and the infamous Kelo decision. Is it Columbia’s mission to teach that legalized theft is just and constitutional? Is it to teach that the end justifies the means?”
Mark Axinn, a Manhattan real estate attorney and Manhattan LP treasurer, laments “I am particularly appalled that Columbia University, which already has significant real estate and financial resources far in excess of others is desirous of relying on the thuggery of government to force other real estate owners to relinquish their property rather than simply purchasing any land it desires on the open market. Surely an institution with the power and wealth of Columbia could simply buy property. By seeking to usurp others' legitimate property rights by eminent domain, a university of which I should be proud lowers itself to the level of the street bully simply taking what it wants from those weaker individuals who might also be
on the schoolyard.”
Christopher Garvey, a Long Island patent attorney and former LPNY candidate for Governor,is outraged. “On The Brian Lehrer Show (3/8/07), President Bollinger stated his case for expansion into the Manhattanville section of West Harlem. He described the activities of his private university as "public purposes", which justified having the government invoke its powers of eminent domain to steal property from existing owners to give to the University. How arrogant! Declaring one's "purposes" to be "public" is so much easier and cheaper than buying property fairly, from willing sellers on the free market.”
Besides the Columbia University Manhattanville eminent domain, the Libertarians oppose the Brooklyn Nets Arena/Atlantic Yards project. They will hold their State Convention on Saturday, April 28th at the Radisson MacArthur Hotel in Holtsville, New York.
Libertarian Party of New York: http://www.ny.lp.org