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

Isle ensconced: City designates swath of Central Bklyn as Little Haiti
Photo by Tequila Minsky

Brooklyn is officially a little more Haitian!

Council on 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 behind 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 shithole country — we are a beautiful community with culture, arts, and history to share.”

Council’s support for Little Haiti will allow Bichotte and other leaders to get to work on projects that 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 E. 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 pol and other Little Haiti backers are currently scouting for spaces to build its first community center, she said, and will soon meet with agencies including the Departments of Transportation, Small Business Services, and Cultural Affairs, as well as the city’s Economic Development Corporation, about other projects.

Council’s legislation christens the 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 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 in the area, which would christen the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Empire Boulevard for Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines if approved, she said.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.