The New Academic Freedom


The Gotham Gazette has a good, link-filled roundup of three huge private-to-private eminent domain transfers being readied in New York City, including a bulldozing frenzy being cooked up by that notable slumlord, Columbia University.

An 18-acre complex would stretch from West 125th Street to West 133rd Street between 12th Avenue and Broadway, and would include biotech research facilities, a building for its art school, student and faculty housing, and administrative buildings. […]

But the land is not the city's to give. For the city to even consider Columbia's request, private property owners must be removed from the picture. Columbia says it hopes to negotiate with the holdouts to find a mutually acceptable resolution. Failing that, it wants the state to use eminent domain to transfer control of these properties.

For some of the area's landowners, the talk of eminent domain has poisoned the talks about Columbia's expansion, eliminating the possibility for compromise.

"They say 'deal with us now or deal with the state later,'" said [Anne] Whitman, who also sits on Community Board Nine. "It's like having a gun to your head."

You mean a revered and powerful liberal institution in New York is leaning on a too-willing government to forcibly kick the Little Guy to the curb? Shocker.