Columbia University looks as though it’s in the final stretch of the public review process for the proposed Boathouse Marsh designed by James Corner Field Operations and the Steven Holl-designed Campbell Sports Center. On Friday night and Sunday afternoon, Columbia University Executive VP Joseph Ienuso made presentations to neighborhood residents. A few media outlets dubbed the gatherings “dueling meetings,” due to some political infighting between council members Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, which erupted during a subcommittee meeting before the city council last week. The background political drama only heightened already-tense negotiations between the neighbors and the university.
The City Planning Commission green-lighted the project on February 16. The proposed 47,700 square foot Campbell Sports Center building sits on a riverfront lot. The university is required by law to devote 15 percent of waterfront property to public access. But instead, the university asked that Field Operations spruce up adjacent wetlands on city-owned land in Inwood Hill Park and offered 10 percent of the university land for public use, arguing that the university can barely squeeze in fields for football, baseball, softball, soccer, and field hockey, as well as six indoor tennis courts and two boathouses.
For their part, Columbia has put an “action plan” in writing that promises to deed the boathouse dock to the city and develop children programs that teach rowing. The eight-point plan focuses primarily on access to the facilities, but also emphasizes getting on the water, a timely point that found its way into the recently released NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan released last week. Several rowers who spoke at both meetings, apparently got Jackson’s ear. The councilman plans to meet with them early this week. The rowers are pushing for another item to be added to the action agenda: a place to store boats.
The deadline for council approval or disapproval is April 6.