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Columbia Seeking Warm Fuzzy Support for Expansion

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Anyone who didn't realize there was a "penultimate public hearing" yesterday on the Columbia expansion into Manhattanville was not not alone. In contrast to the headlines made by meetings earlier in the year, this one in front of the Empire State Development Corporation sort of flew under the radar. Columbia President Lee Bolinger testified, saying that he's looking for conciliation in the final stages of the approval process for the $6 billion expansion and saying that he doesn't want "in any way to be at odds" with the neighbors. At least one landowner may be pursuing litigation rather than conciliation, however. The meeting drew about 150 people and was described this way by the Sun: "The majority of the testimony delivered early in the day skewed toward those in favor of the plan, but as the evening session drew on, an increasing number of opposition speakers were filing in." The Columbia Spectator, however, said that there was significant opposition at the meeting and that "only a handful" spoke in support of the expansion. (The Spectator's description: "The tension in the room was thick, with much of activists’ frustration inflamed by a feeling of déjà vu.") Columbia owns about 80 percent of the private property in its footprint, but four facilities owned by Nick Sprayregen and a gas station on West 125th St. are still in private hands. Mr. Sprayregen, who says he intends to sue to stop any eminent domain action, is supposed to testify at a final hearing tomorrow.
· Columbia Chief Presses for Expansion [Sun]
· Fight Against Eminent Domain Grows More Fierce [Columbia Spectator]
· Columbia Expansion Coverage [Curbed]