Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Underground Railroad House Hearings Getting Kicked Around

Duffield Street House

What's up with the Underground Railroad Houses on Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn? The snarky answer and the short one are the same: Who knows?

The public hearing on the top has been rescheduled many times and the date is still unclear. It could be May 1. Or it could be April 17. But we're pretty certain it won't be April 11. This leads Daily Gotham to label the shifting schedule "a stunning move of extreme waffling" by Council Member Melinda Katz. Daily Gotham writes:
In their messy attempt to help squelch any further exploration of this history, the City Council has in the space of about three weeks rescheduled the public hearing on this three times. The Economic Development Corporation, with AKRF (a private entity dedicated to destroying communities in the way of big development plans), spent two years studying the historical record. The 500+ page report was released 3/13/07 and the first public hearing was scheduled 3/20, giving the public no time to review the report. After some pressure from Tish James and others, they rescheduled the meeting to 4/11. On April 5 at about 5:00 pm, Council Member Katz's office let word out that the meeting will be delayed until May 1. Or maybe not.

Downtown Brooklyn was a well known Abolitionist neighborhood and was the home of several churches that resisted legalized slavery in this country. Residents claim that the historical record shows that their homes were safehouses of the Underground Railroad. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is slobbering at the bit to transform this rich history into an access road for a hotel and underground parking lot.

Whether this is a purposeful attempt to confuse the enemy, or simply a glorious fit of disorganization, the effect is the same: The City Council is stifling public input. It is not too much to ask the City Council to stick to one date.

The city is proposing to demolish the properties for an underground parking lot. Hotels are under construction across the street.

Related Post:
Is City Consultant Deliberately Ignoring Underground Railroad Records?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I work for CM Letitia James, who asked that the hearing be postponed, along with a few other City Council Members. The reason for this was so that community groups, preservationists, historians, the homeowners in question, and others have a chance to read the 500+ page document on Duffield Street and its history released last month. This was done to allow for MORE public input, not less. There is not waffling nor anything untoward going on.

Thanks, Kate Suisman
Chief of Staff to CM James

2:41 PM  

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