Officials Boost Columbia Expansion: New York NY Sun, 9/27/07

By Eliot Brown

As Columbia University takes its proposed 17-acre expansion before the City Planning Commission and the City Council in coming weeks, the institution is facing lessening political resistance, as elected officials are lining up to offer support for the plan.

The president of Manhattan, Scott Stringer, yesterday recommended approval for the project, and received praise from the local council member, Robert Jackson, for an agreement he reached with the university.

While the Community Board has refused to support the expansion based on Columbia's threatened use of eminent domain, among other issues, Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Jackson have not taken such positions.

While critics want the council or the Bloomberg administration to pressure off the table the idea of using eminent domain before approving the project, the lack of strong political opposition on the issue makes that pressure seem less likely.

The approval of the City Planning Commission and the City Council are necessary for the project to proceed, and the recommendations of the Community Board and Mr. Stringer are advisory.

Mr. Stringer stated his approval for the project yesterday at a news conference, and, standing beside Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, announced a commitment by the university to give more than $30 million to the creation of new "affordable" housing and parkland in the area.

New York NY Sun: http://www.nysun.com