Sunday, June 24, 2007

Abolitionist Museum Augments the Stated Bloomberg Vision

On June 23, 2007 the Daily News started an opinion piece with this statement:

The future of downtown Brooklyn is colliding with its past. Unsubstantiated claims that six 19th-century houses may have hidden slaves on the Underground Railroad are being used to block a key component of the area's rebirth.
But a quick look at the stated goals of the plan will show that an Abolitionist museum at 227 Duffield Street would greatly augment the stated goals of the plan for Downtown Brooklyn. Here are a few quotes from a Department of City Planning press release "Bloomberg Administration Unveils Development Plan for Downtown Brooklyn (4/13/2003)" [emphasis added]:
  • Downtown Brooklyn offers companies seeking to diversify their operations affordable office space, outstanding mass transportation access, and burgeoning residential, academic and cultural opportunities
  • Downtown Brooklyn must be a livable community with its own unique identity
  • Our vision for Downtown Brooklyn capitalizes on its existing strengths: its transit networks, strong neighborhoods, cultural resources
  • The plan calls for... an expanded intellectual community.... [and] A mixed-use cultural district with a new library, theaters, galleries, rehearsal spaces, and other cultural venues
  • "This Plan and collaboration that went into its development underscore the Mayor's commitment that residents should decide the future of their communities," said Deputy Mayor Doctoroff. "Downtown Brooklyn has enormous potential for further quality development and the Administration is determined to ensure that we continue to build consensus going forward so that we meet the needs and interests of everyone involved."
The press release mentions the word "cultural" eight times, and "parking" twice. The plan would call for the creation of 2,000 new parking spaces, and 694 of those were envisioned for the properties currently home to the Chatel and other families.

The promotion of an Abolitionist museum on Duffield Street is much more consistent with the stated goals of the Department of Planning press release. The future of Brooklyn is not colliding with its past. We need to fully research the historical these properties before destroying them. Otherwise, it might be the parking lot that will "block a key component of the area's rebirth."