Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Community ends up with nothing after wide-scale condemnation
From the Wall Street Journal:
It was supposed to be a breakthrough victory for Harlem residents and a model on how to settle raging land-use disputes.
But more than 2½ years after Columbia University brokered an agreement with community groups — exchanging a lucrative package of benefits for the area's blessing of the university's expansion into West Harlem — local officials and residents are complaining that the fruits of the deal remain a mystery.
Political squabbling over control of the benefits has left nearly $3 million in Columbia-donated funds idling in a bank. The group administering the largest chunk of benefits, the West Harlem Local Development Corp., doesn't have an office, a website or a staff. The corporation hasn't made public any reports of its activities.
As required, Columbia has directed funds to pay for an agreement compliance officer hired by the state and a tenants attorney to advise residents on evictions. But no one has been retained.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who enforces the state's charities law, has subpoenaed the nonprofit corporation, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars but never registered with his office.