On May 18, 2009, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and the President of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation (WHLDC) signed the West Harlem Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) marking a unique partnership between the University and the residents in Manhattan’s Community District 9. The agreement, along with commitments made to the City and the State over the course of the formal approval processes for the Manhattanville expansion project, encompasses not only a financial commitment on the part of the University, but also a commitment of both “in-kind” resources and advice and guidance on a range of issues and programs.
While much of the CBA relates to financial or physical resources, the University responded to community desire to not simply focus on cash benefits, but to develop a more substantial relationship between the community and the academic resources of the University, especially with Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. GCA, working with Office of the Provost, helped to ensure that there are a number of ways in which the agreement reflects this desire. Ultimately, these elements make our CBA not just a straightforward developer’s compensation to an impacted community, but rather a unique opportunity for Town/Gown partnership.
GCA maintains an ongoing relationship with the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC) and works with others in the University to ensure its obligations under the CBA are met. Through its ongoing partnership, GCA works to optimize the longstanding relationship that the University has established with the WHDC, in order maximize our joint potential for the West Harlem community.
To learn more about the Manhattanville Expansion Project, visit Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs at http://gca.columbia.edu/