Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Public Comments About Underground Railroad Houses

Yesterday was the last day for public comment in the (redone) eminent domain proceedings for a variety of properties in downtown Brooklyn. We got a copy of the comment submitted by Phil De Paolo of the New York Commmunity Council and thought we'd share a couple of short excerpts:
We see a gross injustice taking place on Duffield St...There is a long oral tradition of the buildings on Duffield St being part of the Underground Railroad, and while it is certain that a family of abolitionists, the Truesdells, lived at 227 Duffield Street, that venerable building is scheduled to go under the wrecking ball, along with 231 and 233 Duffield Street, to make way for a parking lot that would serve a hotel now under construction nearby...A city funded report that denies any Underground Railroad activity along Duffield Street isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The report, issued in April by AKRF, said that 227 Duffield St., as well as neighboring buildings, was not used to spirit 19th-century slaves to freedom. The city and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership are simply trying to hide the inconvenient truth of Duffield Street’s Abolitionist history. It would be a terrible shame to tear these buildings down, there needs to be more research, an archaeological study.

The city’s conclusion that there’s no evidence of Underground Railroad history is fundamentally flawed and, therefore, cannot form the basis for the destruction of what many believe to be an Underground Railroad station where abolitionists helped runaway slaves hide and escape to freedom...our environmental review process is being corrupted by biased and incompetent consultants who prepare environmental impact statements that are framed in a way that take us away from reality.
(All of the comments submitted were directed to a gentleman named Jack Hammer, which is utterly fascinating in the case of controversial potential demolitions.) The city was moving ahead with the eminent domain process before it was forced to stop and go through the hearing and public comment process again.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am baffled as to why you find Mr. De Paolo's statement to be so newsworthy. This is pure political rhetoric. He does not present ONE SHRED of evidence in his statement, nor does he reference any historical work. He states "The city's conclusion that there's no evidence of Underground Railroad history is fundamentally flawed..." as if it were self-evident, yet it is not. WHERE is the evidence he so emphatically talks about, but does not reference?

I realize that there will always be people like Mr. DePaolo around: self-promoting agitators. What gets me is the microphone you give him for this piece of drivel. I used to find your blog interesting, but lately I notice more of this type of work. As such, I now find it tedious, and look at it less and less.

9:59 AM  
Blogger raulistic said...

Dear Anonymous,

The City's conclusions are here:
http://tinyurl.com/2esstj and to to the section called "DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND RAILROAD REPORT."

You should look closely at Appendix C, which was written by various experts, whose CVs are listed in Appendix G. The experts who studied the issue come to the conclusion that the properties should be saved, though the unnamed AKRF employees who wrote the Executive Summary ignored their own experts.

If would like a discussion of the methodology used by the EDC, or references to the census data that they used, please let me know and I will post it on DuffieldSt.blogspot.com. My email is rrothblatt (at) gmail (dot) com.

I have spoken to several of these experts on the subject, including Dr. Swan, James Driscoll, Andrew P. Jackson, Robert Hourihan (sp?) and Dr. Cheryl LaRoche. The history is fascinating, and I recommend learning more about it. They could also provide more evidence, if my information is insufficient.

8:58 PM  

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