Little Haiti heats up: Proposed district moves closer to reality at pol’s rally

Little Haiti heats up: Proposed district moves closer to reality at pol’s rally
A new district: Members of the Little Haiti planning committee, including Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, center right in red blouse, gathered on Friday to push for the creation of the pol’s proposed cultural enclave.
Community News Group / Alexandra Simon

This little district has come a long way!

A state pol spearheading the push to create a Little Haiti in Kings County brought the cultural district closer to fruition on Friday at a rally within her proposed enclave that celebrated Haitian Flag Day and the unveiling of a street co-named for a Haitian revolutionary.

Installing the sign designating Nostrand Avenue between Newkirk and Flatbush avenues as Toussaint L’Ouverture Boulevard signaled an important step forward for the proposed district — especially after another placard honoring L’Ouverture disappeared from Nostrand Avenue after officials approved it in 2004, according to Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D–Flatbush).

“We did it once before and then they took the sign down, so for years Toussaint L’Ouverture Boulevard was not honored,” said Bichotte, who wants to include parts of Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, and East Flatbush in her ethnic enclave. “Today is a historic day for Brooklyn.”

The pol’s proposed “Little Haiti Cultural and Business District” would be generally bounded by E. 16th Street, Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, and Avenue H, and also include Church Avenue between Brooklyn and Albany avenues. Its creation would follow that of the neighboring Little Caribbean, which officials formally designated last year despite Bichotte’s demands to postpone the process until a Little Haiti could be formed simultaneously.

And as locals native to the Caribbean island continue their fight to overcome recent political insults and obstacles, their resilient spirit should be supported by establishing a district that honors their legacy in the borough, according to the councilman pushing the designation through the city’s legislative body.

“Not long ago, the president of the United States singled out Haiti and called it a s***hole,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–East Flatbush). “So when a community steps up and says we’re going to push back on negative perceptions, we have to celebrate that.”

Council will vote to formally designate Little Haiti at an upcoming legislative session, according to Bichotte, whose proposal received the support of other city electeds including Haitian-born Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Flatbush), Borough President Adams, and Mayor DeBlasio since she announced it last year. The title would establish the cultural district in name only, allowing local Haitians to lure more tourism dollars and investment by celebrating their heritage, she said.

And if all goes according to plan, L’Ouverture won’t be the only forefather whose name graces a street in the district — Bichotte is also pushing to co-name the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Empire Boulevard for Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and expects officials to officially endorse the tribute sometime this summer, a rep said.

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

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