Sunday, September 21, 2008

Astoria immigrant a victim of Columbia U.

Mr. Singh came to New York from Punjab in northwestern India in 1981, following his older brother, Puramjit Singh. He washed dishes in a Queens restaurant before the two pooled their money, buying a gas station in Queens and two others in Manhattanville. He worked days; his brother worked nights.

At the time, crime in the area was high, and many drivers took their chances with an empty tank rather than stop at the Singhs’ stations, which were robbed at gunpoint with regularity, Mr. Singh said.

In the early 1990s, his brother was fatally shot during an armed robbery at the Queens gas station.

2 Gas Stations, and a Family’s Resolve, Confront Columbia Expansion Plan

As the Manhattanville neighborhood improved, Mr. Singh and Ms. Kaur managed to make a good living from the service stations, located in an old, industrial stretch near where drivers enter and exit the Henry Hudson Parkway. The family has bought a home in Astoria, Queens, and plans to send Amar, Mr. Singh’s stepdaughter, to medical school.

The family, however, said Columbia’s expansion plans had stalled plans to upgrade the stations, because banks are unwilling to offer loans to businesses that might be seized via eminent domain.

“They are a prime example of the American dream,” said Mr. Sprayregen, who owns a storage building that abuts one of the service stations. “It would be a terrible signal to other immigrants who look at America as a golden beacon if someone could lose everything they’ve worked for because someone more powerful covets their property.”


Anonymous said...

Why is no one looking into this?

Has the big players in preservation commented, or how about our collegiate think tanks - wait! isn't Colombia one of them?

Yet another example of how the presevation community in many ways is part of this Cult of Development.

Anonymous said...

Why is this type situation not a exception to eminent domain. Who determines the fair value of this family's buisness other than themselfs?

Eminent domain to accelerate Columbia U benefits? They should pay up the asking price of this family's property - no question - not robbing them nor should the city enable it.

Anonymous said...

Before Columbia even considers expanding, how about spending a little money in the buildings of Teacher's College. They look disgusting. Shame on you Columbia!

Anonymous said...

Terrible though it is, it happens in America all the time, so this sends an accurate signal to other immigrants.

GL said...

I remember from a few months back of a grocery store owner in that neighborhood or around washington heights using the fear of terrorism as a reason to halt expansion.

His reasoning was that Columbia, as a prestigious world famous school, is inherently a target for terrorism. The more it expands the larger of an area it exposes to an attack.

I don't know how well that argument worked, but it was a good try for a situation that is largely ignored.

Anonymous said...

CJ said:
"Maybe it's because most of the institutions of higher learning in Queens and NYC in general do not make good neighbors."

Anonymous said...
I think that colleges teaching their faculty about the history and neighborhoods of Queens so they can understand and relate to their students and the community better is a great example of institutions of higher learning being neighborly.

So whats your argument?

This is an example of my argument. Just what do you think they are teaching the community here. Better still, what do you think they are teaching young minds. Greed is good. Power belongs in the hands of the elite.
The university system in this country is as corrupt as any Wall Street wheeler dealer. And we are left to pay the price and pickup the pieces.