To: Columbia University, local representatives
Over the past two years, Columbia University has met with elected officials, Community Board 12, and others to move forward on plans to expand athletic facilities at Baker Field. Because the proposed project is located on waterfront property, NYC zoning regulations require Columbia to set aside 15% of its land for public waterfront access. Citing current conditions at Baker Field, Columbia has received approval from the NYC Department of City Planning to modify this requirement. With this modification, Columbia is planning to provide a fraction of the required 15% through a proposed project called the Boathouse Marsh. Columbia has agreed to provide some benefits for the community in connection with this project and address community concerns about the impact that the construction and the new facility will have on quality of life in the area.
Several proposals have been discussed, but with a final City Council vote on the issue scheduled for next week, we need to advocate for stronger benefits for the community. The following proposal was compiled with input from various sectors of the Inwood/Washington Heights community, and has been submitted to Columbia and our local elected representatives. We ask that you join us in supporting this proposal, and in asking that Columbia act as a good neighbor and a good citizen of the community.
Community Proposals for Baker Field Expansion
Goal: Expand educational programs for local public school children
• Work with Inwood Community Services and similar local community based organizations to implement afterschool and summer youth employment programs. Specific proposals include:
o Elementary Age Afterschool: Four Holiday Program Afternoons (between 12 noon and 4pm) during which our 235 elementary aged participants (K to 5th grade) can engage with ICS staff in field games on Baker’s Field complex including but not limited to relay races, team (ultimate) Frisbee, teeball/baseball, soccer and American football. Holiday Programs operate during weeks school is not in session. Days and times would be mutually agreeable between Inwood Community Services and Columbia University
o Middle School Age Afterschool: Four school day program afternoons (between 3pm and 6pm) during which our 125 middle school aged participants (6th to 8th grade) can engage with ICS staff in track races as well as team sports including but not limited to football, softball/baseball, soccer and American football. Days and times would be mutually agreeable between Inwood Community Services and Columbia University
o ISPY Summer Camps: Two summer afternoons (between 12noon and 4pm) during which our 235 campers (K to 5th grade) can engage with ICS staff in field games on Baker’s Field complex including but not limited to relay races, team (ultimate) Frisbee, tee ball/baseball, soccer and American football. Days and times would be mutually agreeable between Inwood Community Services and Columbia University
o Summer Youth Employment Program: ICS would place at least 10 ICS summer employment participants (aged 14 to 24) in Columbia University’s various athletic programs and/or physical plant opportunities during the summer. Youth will work 22.5 hours a week at no cost to Columbia University for approximately six weeks (dependent upon funding). ICS will develop a worksite agreement with Columbia University in which the days, times, and specific participant requirements (ages, experience level, skill sets, etc.) will be requested by the University.
• Work with existing Columbia programs to expand the educational opportunities for students at local Inwood schools. Possibilities include working with the Double Discovery Center at Columbia University (DDC) whose mission is to provide academic assistance to students typically underrepresented in higher education, particularly those from the communities surrounding Columbia University. DDC would facilitate educational and enrichment programs for Inwood students. Programs would take advantage of the educational opportunities presented by the Boathouse Marsh, Inwood Hill Park, and the Baker Field Sports Complex. Potential subject areas include Environmental Sciences/ Earth and Environmental Engineering Studies at Columbia’s Earth Institute and Sports Medicine at Columbia’s Orthopedics Dept. of Columbia’s School of Sports Medicine.
(CU Action Plan: Involve school children in the creation of the Boathouse Marsh and create opportunities for ongoing environmental education related to the presence of the Boathouse Marsh and its environmental aspects).
• Provide a five-week Environmental Science summer program for local high school students. Inwood Hill Park and Baker Field is a site of ecological importance and is the last salt marsh in Manhattan. A summer environmental science program will provide opportunities for professors, graduate students, and undergraduate students in programs related to environmental science (i.e. the Department of Earth and Environmental Science) to teach local students about the unique environmental aspects of parkland in their own neighborhood. Hands-on academic opportunities are invaluable in exposing students to areas of study and potential careers.
• Create an environmental service learning project related to the restored fresh/salt water marsh for high school students with at least two hours of instructional and/or fieldwork time on a weekly basis.
(CU Action Plan: Create an environmental service-learning project related to the restored fresh/salt water marsh that will include local school children).
• Work in partnership with CHALK (Choosing Healthy & Active Lifestyles for Kids) to provide programming, including access to Baker Field Sports facilities once a week for local DOE Title I schools.
• In local DOE Title I schools that have no Physical Education staff or Physical Education curriculum, CU will work in partnership with graduate programs such as the Teachers College School of Movement Science and Education or the Teacher’s College Specialization in Curriculum and Physical Education to create opportunities for program development and fieldwork in local public schools. Create opportunities for graduate students obtaining K–12 New York State teacher certification in physical education to work in local schools. Local DOE Title I Schools include PS/MS18, PS/MS278, PS98, PS366/Washington Heights Academy, Muscota New School, Amistad, IS52, IS218, PS152, PS178
Goal: To facilitate real access to the waterfront for local children and adults
• Community Boathouse: Provide capital money for the construction of a community boathouse for local residents of Inwood and Washington Heights. CU’s gifting of the dock to the City will be meaningless without facilities that enable the public to make use of the dock. A storage facility or boathouse from which people can transport small boats to the water, store boats, stage community programs, and use basic amenities is critical to realizing any benefit the community would receive from this gift. Given the decreasing budgets of most City agencies, it is not likely that DPR will take on the cost of building a boathouse or any storage facility. A community boathouse would improve social equity and environmental justice in the area by creating opportunities for the public to access the water and enjoy recreational and educational opportunities.
• Create and fund a local crew club for both age-appropriate children and adults in the local community. Local clubs such as the one at Swindler’s Cove are prohibitively expensive – upwards of $1,000.00 per year.
• CU crew team members, coaches, and volunteers will work with local public school children to provide at least 10 hours per week of “learn to row” and similar programming activities.
(CU Action Plan: Develop an annual Learn to Row or other water safety program for children from Washington Heights and Inwood (consistent with University policy).
Access to Facilities
• Track: Expand hours of access to the track and provide weekend access.
• Community Space: Provide at least 20 hours of community meeting space per month (Action Plan: Columbia is offering one community meeting/month subject to availability).
• Pool: Allow local residents access to use of the Uris Pool for a nominal annual fee for off peak hours; Alternatively, offer “family swim” or similar programming on one weekend day per week for four hours to local residents.
o Allow local residents to pay ½ the hourly rate listed on website for use of facilities during off peak hours.
o Make a substantial donation to the public tennis courts at Inwood Hill Park to resurface the courts to meet USTA standards.
o Make a donation to The Washington Heights Tennis Association (WTA), a year-round tennis program in the public courts in Inwood Hill Park and at CU’s Dick Savitt Tennis Center. This program has an enrollment of nearly 300 children (215 summer; 75 winter) and has created nationally ranked pro tennis players, and many of their students have gone on to win college scholarships. WTA would like to expand its summer and winter programs but lacks funding to do so.
• Make a donation to the Student Athlete Fund. Inwood LL’s mission is to create healthy, successful, responsible model citizens through their yearly baseball programs. The strategy for achieving its mission is to offer year round programming and support that stresses excellence, personal accountability, physical conditioning and training.
• Provide 60 scholarships instead of the proposed 19 in the action plan, with the understanding that more summer camps or classes may have to be created to accommodate this need. With 10 Title I schools within a mile of Baker Field, the need for recreational and athletic opportunities for the local public school children is great.
• Add at least one more recipient to the Dyckman Institute scholarship program, bringing the annual total from four to five.
• Wages & Benefits: During the project term, pay all CU Project Employees a Living Wage (as defined in Manhattanville CBA). Provide the same health insurance benefits to CU Project Employees as it provides to other CU Employees in similar positions.
• Project Workforce: Make good faith efforts toward a goal to have the construction workforce composed of 50% M/W/L over the life of the project. CU will aspire to increase the stated workforce goal with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
• Provide pre-apprenticeship programs for local residents to facilitate training and employment opportunities.
Perimeter Design, Lighting, Bicycle Access
• Implement the same high design standards for the perimeter of the Baker Field Campus along 218th St. and both sides of Broadway used in the proposed new park including a master planting plan; fence and gate replacement; new signage and site lighting. The rear of the soccer stadium bleachers on Broadway – adjacent to and north of Campbell Building – will be made more secure by the use of lighting, planting, fence replacement, and a security alert system that includes continuously monitored surveillance cameras.
• Install remote control lighting at Wien stadium. The field lights shall be directed onto the playing field and away from the residential buildings to eliminate light spill. The switching shall be redesigned to facilitate turning off the lights when the students leave the field – but no later than 10:00 P.M.
• Boathouse Marsh: Provide bike racks for 20 bicycles at the park entrance in addition to the minimum of five required by the DCP. Integrate into the entrance area of the Campbell Building for student and community use.
• As 218th St. is an integral section of the heavily used city-wide bicycle route, ensure the unencumbered use of the marked bicycle routes on 218th St. by the design and use of bus, car and truck drop off within its property.
• Work with DPR to provide security for the area adjacent to the dock that will be open to the public. Currently, CU plans to provide security only at the Boathouse Marsh.
Construction Related Impacts
• Meet with local residents prior to and regularly during construction to inform them of plans to address construction related impacts (including noise, traffic, Integrated Pest Management, remediation activities) and to address community concerns that may arise.
Monitoring and Enforcement
• Commit to clear monitoring and enforcement provisions to ensure compliance with the terms of the legally enforceable agreement; Make available data and personnel sufficient to evaluate progress and compliance.
• Community Advisory Council (CAC): The CAC will foster transparency and accountability for each of CU’s commitments and work with CU to monitor implementation of the agreement. The CAC will also serve as a forum through which residents of Inwood and Washington Heights can share information and resources.
The CAC will consist of community members from Inwood and Washington Heights representing a broad range of community sectors including business, community and faith based organizations, parents and teachers associations, elected officials, and local civic groups. The CAC will work with the Assistant Vice President for Government and Community Affairs and other CU administration to disseminate information for University-Community programming and other available community resources.
(CU Action Plan: Regular Engagement with the Community: Columbia and the community share a desire to strengthen relationships and partnerships to advance the mutual needs of the community and University).