City Council Continues to Waffle on Underground Railroad Safehouses
Warning: the following post includes confusing details meant to discourage public participation. Some patience and bravery is advised.
In a stunning move of extreme waffling, the office of Melinda Katz has rescheduled the public hearing on Duffield Street from April 11 to May 1. Or maybe it will be April 17, but we won't know for sure until a few days before the meeting.
Write that the destruction of the Underground Railroad deserves a fair hearing. The City should not waddle through the seizure by eminent domain of private homes in a haphazard manner.
Stick to the announced date of May 1 for the public hearing on the Duffield Street Abolitionist homes!
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 EDC, 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 May 1st date also allows sympathetic City Council representatives to attend. The later date is also better for the residents who face eviction.