In October 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Member Mathieu Eugene announced a proposal to transform 2286 Church Avenue (the Bedford-Church site referred to in the report as ‘the site’) into 100% affordable homes and youth-focused programming, alongside memorialization of the Flatbush African Burial Ground and other history connected to the site. This led to the formation of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance and Redevelopment Task Force as well as an extensive effort to gather community feedback on how best to develop this site for this community’s needs. The Task Force was co-chaired by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Eugene and made up of members selected for their expertise across sectors integral to the neighborhood—history, housing, clergy, community development, libraries, schools, business improvement districts, youth and cultural organizations.
Throughout 2021, the Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance and Redevelopment Task Force held 7 meetings to guide the development of recommendations with the larger public on critical aspects of the project, including the respectful treatment of human remains, if discovered in the future; on and/or off-site memorialization; a future housing project and program; and broader community engagement. This collaboration resulted in a set of priorities detailed in a Community Engagement Report issued by HPD at the end of 2021.
The involvement of the neighborhood and broader Flatbush is vital to ensure that a future project at this site meets the needs of the community and appropriately honors the history. Community members were invited to participate in various remote engagement opportunities to support the shaping of the task force’s recommendations, including:
In engaging with this process and other forums, the community made clear their priority and need to focus the future of the site on honoring and memorializing the Flatbush African Burial Ground and associated history of slavery in Brooklyn and NYC. Given the emphasis this process has placed on the recognition of history and affirmation of cultural memory, in addition to the clear and thoughtful feedback from participants in the process, the City has decided to not move forward with the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for affordable housing, youth services and memorialization.