Isle ensconced: City designates swath of Central Bklyn as Little Haiti

Brooklyn is officially a little more Haitian!

The City Council last Thursday passed a bill designating a swath of Central Brooklyn as the Little Haiti Cultural and Business District, culminating a state pol’s months-long push for the enclave following last year’s designation of its tiny neighbor, Little Caribbean.

The creation of Kings County’s Little Haiti is an important achievement for locals with roots on the island, especially after President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks and controversial policy changes targeting Haitian immigrants, according to the legislator who advocated for the cultural district.

“This is historic, and we want people to know that the Haitians are not going anywhere,” said Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D–Flatbush). “We are not a s—hole country — we are a beautiful community with culture, arts, and history to share.”

Council’s approval of the Little Haiti designation will allow Bichotte and other leaders to get to work on projects they feel can help bring more tourism dollars and other investments to the area — which covers parts of Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush, and Midwood, and is generally bounded by East 16th Street, Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, and Avenue H, and also includes Church Avenue between Brooklyn and Albany avenues.

“By making this official with Council, we can work with city agencies to help beautify and fix the streets, put in new decorative lighting, and build some housing and cultural centers,” Bichotte said.

The Assemblywoman and other Little Haiti backers are currently scouting for spaces to build its first community center, she said, and will soon meet with city agencies — including the Departments of Transportation, Small Business Services, and Cultural Affairs, as well as the city’s Economic Development Corporation — to discuss plans for other projects.

The Council legislation christens the new enclave as a cultural district in name only, however, and does not preserve it from future development and the destruction of any buildings that may be require.

In May, Bichotte held a rally in the newly formed district to unveil the co-naming of Nostrand Avenue between Newkirk and Flatbush avenues as Toussaint L’Ouverture Boulevard in honor of the Haitian forefather.

And next month, Council is expected to vote on a second co-naming proposal, which if approved fwould christen the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Empire Boulevard for Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.

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