Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Victory (????): RFP for Abolitionist commemoration

The NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released an RFP called Brooklyn Abolitionism Commemoration.

It's unclear what all this means so soon after the RFP was released. On the one hand it's a great victory that the EDC will allow for a museum on the site of their planned parking lot that until this week would have destroyed the Duffield Abolitionist homes. On the other hand, the RFP does not appear to require a museum, so 227 Duffield is not yet safe.

Until we can fully digest the document, here are some excerpts, staring with the Overview:
New York City Economic Development Corporation (“NYCEDC”) will issue a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) to select an existing cultural organization to develop and manage a commemoration site and ongoing program dedicated to the ‘historical friendships’ created during the 19th century Abolitionist Movement among people of different backgrounds, with particular attention paid to the Underground Railroad and its ties to the Borough of Brooklyn.

A project may be proposed for any area of Brooklyn, but it is expected that the most competitive proposals will provide for a central location for orientation connected to a network of related sites.
About Willoughby Square, the 1.25 acre park which the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has called "critical" to job growth:
The Plaza is a critical aspect of the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan, which recognizes the need for green space in the core of Downtown Brooklyn and aims to revitalize and enhance the district. Willoughby Square was initially designed as a way to attract residents, visitors and tenants to the new office, hotel, retail and residential space around this new public space just south of MetroTech. Currently, roughly two thousand housing units, five hundred hotel rooms and thousands of square feet of new retail and office development are in the development process in the immediate vicinity. Beneath the Plaza will be a 700-car public parking garage for use by visitors and employees. This new Plaza will be programmed for daily and seasonal use much like Manhattan’s Bryant Park and will serve multiple purposes for those living, working, studying and visiting the district.

So the EDC still considers their little parking lot and park to be critical to economic development, but this RFP is still a tremendous victory for those of us who believe that promoting Abolitionist history is the best way to promote Brooklyn. It shouldn't be hard to adjust the City's plan for a small park to prevent the destruction of these historic homes... shouldn't be, but we're working with the Bloomberg's EDC here.