COURIER L 20 IFE, JUNE 11-17, 2021
Where do Flatbush
stand on PS 90?
BY BEN VERDE
In October 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio
and Flatbush Councilmember Mathieu
Eugene announced plans to redevelop
the former site of PS 90 into
all-affordable housing — but some locals
aren’t thrilled with the proposal’s
lack of community input, or its disregard
for a potential burial ground.
The site at the corner of Bedford and
Church avenues is slated to house 130
affordable apartments with space for
an educational or vocational facility
on the ground fl oor. It’s also thought
to be home to a 19th century African
burial ground, where the remains of
enslaved people were interred.
While the city seeks out a developer
for the site, it has assembled a task force
to handle any human remains discovered,
and to discuss the possibility of
memorializing those buried there.
Brooklyn Paper surveyed candidates
running to replace the 40th District’s
on their thoughts on the project as it
moves forward, and if they would push
for plans to be reimagined if elected.
Pierre, currently the male district
leader in the 42nd Assembly District,
said he would support delaying the development
of the site to allow for a more
robust community planning process.
The candidate said he believed developing
low-income housing was critical
to the needs of Flatbush, but that the
PS 90 site was unique, and merited more
input than the current proposal had allowed
“Too often sites are envisioned and
redeveloped without our residents being
involved,” Pierre said. “This site
is very unique and I fully support delaying
any decision to ensure we have
broader community participation and
consensus on how to move forward.”
Cortez, a teachers union chapter
leader, said she would like to see the
site become a memorial — within a
park or a garden — to the enslaved
people interred there rather than developed
“We need to acknowledge the fact
that this is potentially a mass grave
for enslaved Africans and a memorial
there would be highly appropriate,”
said Cortez, who compared the situation
to that of the 9/11 memorial site .
“You couldn’t simply put a fresh
coat of paint over it and plant new
buildings,” she said. “This was now
and forever a mass grave site and to
pretend it wasn’t would do a disservice
to those who lost their lives there.”
Joseph, a local public school teacher,
said she took issue with the lack of community
input that had gone into the site,
and would rather see it used as an urban
farm or community garden.
“I support utilizing the land for a
community farm, as it would provide
an improved environment for current
residents while simultaneously honoring
the people who came before us,” said
the candiadte, who also pointed to a
lack of greenspace in the district, which
ranks 45th out of the 51 City Council districts
for the number of parks and playgrounds
per 1,000 residents.
“Central Brooklyn is in desperate
need of green spaces,” she said.
Morris, an attorney, said he took issue
with the lack of input allowed for
the site, and did not trust the New York
City Economic Development Corporation
to be a transparent community
partner in developing the site.
“New York City Economic Development
Corporation is the least transparent
development administrator of
any project within NYC,” Morris said.
“They are not trustworthy or good stewards
of any development proposal.”
Morris said he would work to offer
real public hearings for the project.
Hines, a community activist, has
been one of the loudest voices of opposition
to the project, having helped organize
multiple marches against the
The candidate says she takes issue
with building atop what is thought to
be a burial ground, and thinks the city
should take the opportunity to properly
honor the dead. She says the only
appropriate use of the site would be a
“We do not want farmland on
bones, or housing on bones,” she said.
“We want a monument for the world to
see that is decorated with dignity and
Candidates Edwin Raymond, Kenya
Handy-Hilliard, Maxi Eugene,
and John Williams did not respond to
requests to comment for this article.
As Borough President, Jo Anne will: