Testimony of Zella Jones
Member of the Community Task Force on NYU Development
Before the New York City Planning Commission
For the Public Hearing on the New York University Core Project
April 25, 2012
Dear Chairwoman Burden and Members of the Commission:
In 2004 I began the arduous process of advocating for a plan for NYU development. Ad hoc acquisitions, random BSA applications, occasional Landmarks Certificates of Appropriateness, and seemingly spontaneous large-scale sproutings of as-of-right projects were clearly not working to the Community's advantage, nor, truthfully, were they enabling much vision from NYU. And, except for an extraordinary amount of animosity on both sides, not much of long-term value was growing, either.
Finally, in 2006 with even more strong-arming and the invaluable muscle of Borough President Stringer and his office, we formed the Community Task Force on NYU Development and an actual planning process began. Thirty five organizations and elected officials engaged; NYU put together a planning team; we agreed on a protocol and eventually a loose set of guiding principles. I launched and maintained a website - communitynyc.org. We had more than 200 people on a list-serve and 800 people a month checking our web-pages. There were projections, there were rejections, there were arguments, there were self-interests, political interests, practical and impractical interests ... but we kept on talking.
What is before you is not perfect. Had the Task Force been able to assist during the considerations of the Super Block ULURP perhaps more neutral territory and expertise would have advanced substantive compromise, even visionary benefits. But, I am here today, with essentially one message: Don't just say no I Having a plan, making it stick, integrating the Community within NYU and NYU within the Community is the goal here. We do need them and they do need us.
I have attached some bullet points to explain why and some others that suggest ways in which common interests and needs could effectuate an integration of lasting precedence for this, and maybe even other institutional projects the City will consider over the next 20 years.
I thank you for your kind attention.
Member Community Task Force on NYU Development