As for the “electeds” mentioned by Escobar, only Lappin has consistently stated her position on behalf of the community. Her support for Cornell seems as strong, however, and she appears ready to accept the university’s vague promises about barging and claims about supporting the Island’s public school. Lappin noted the huge potential benefit for the school if it were “adopted” by Cornell. “Framing it as ‘adopt-a-school’ is brilliant. I agree. Roosevelt Island will always be important to us,” Cornell’s Dove declared in response.
When reality met the ideal, however, the story was quite different. In a statement from PS/IS 217 Principal Mandana Beckman, read by Nina Lublin, the failure of Cornell to live up to promises already made was emphasized. One program has already been dropped, and Beckman’s statement made it clear that pledges made throughout the ULURP process had little to show in real-world experience.
Lublin later told The WIRE that, “I heard her (Dove) talking about how committed she is to the school, and I had to call her out.”
The State Assemblymember whose district includes Roosevelt Island (and a candidate for Lappin’s City Council seat when she leaves to run for Borough President this year), previously declined to answer or even acknowledge a request from The WIRE for a statement. He was not at the hearing. His competition for the Council seat, Ben Kallos, sent a representative to read his statement in opposition to the project and in support of community concerns.
“Cornell NYC Tech can’t claim to be sustainable unless it supports the local infrastructure on which it relies,” Kallos’ campaign asserts. It goes on to quote a statement by City Planning Commissioner Michelle de la Uz in her no vote for the project: “I am not happy with their exemption from paying for services.”
The Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee will have further discussions before voting on their recommendations to the full City Council, which has 45 days to consider the project. The only hurdle outstanding thereafter is the mayor, who supports the project fully and has shown no signs of concern about its effect on Roosevelt Island residents. Lappin appeared satisfied with Cornell’s promises at the hearing, so City Council approval seems a near certainty, leaving only RIOC and possible future legal challenges as hurdles to be cleared before construction begins next year.