Columbia’s community benefits agreement in Harlem already bearing fruit, university says

October 04, 2013 05:40PM

The benefits of Columbia University’s “community benefits agreement,” the school’s olive branch to Harlem residents ruffled by the school’s expansion plans, are already happening, according to a new report from the school.

Two-third of all workers on the expansion are minority, women or locally hired — a number that exceeds the 40 percent minimum set by the $150 million agreement signed in 2009, the report said. The school also said it has paid out more than $24 million to local groups, a fraction of the $150 million promised over the coming decades.

Medical services to senior citizens, summer jobs for youth from local projects and transportation for elderly and handicapped residents to the subway are also happening, the report said.

“You’d be hard pressed to find a project that’s done more for its community,” La-Verna Fountain, the university’s vice president for construction business services, told the New York Daily News.

Still, some local residents fear rising rents and a neighborhood overrun by outsiders.

“The community is definitely benefiting, but there are still many more to help,” Kofi Boateng, president of the West Harlem Development Corp., which is running a number of CBA programs for Columbia, told the Daily News.

The project’s first construction in the expansion zone, the 10-story Jerome L. Green Science Center, is to be celebrated Friday. [NYDN]Julie Strickland