Community groups, city clash over development plan

BROOKLYN - A fight broke out at a public hearing between the city and community groups that oppose the city?s plan to destroy buildings believed to be part of the Underground Railroad.

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, or FUREE, wanted to hold a banner at the hearing portraying developers as gold diggers. They were ordered to remove the banner before the hearing began, but were ultimately allowed to display it.

Groups like FUREE attended the hearing to voice their opposition to the city?s plan to take a number of buildings in downtown Brooklyn through condemnation proceedings. The city plans to create new housing, commercial space and parking in their place.

The city spent $500,000 studying three homes on Duffield Street that many believed were part of the Underground Railroad but concluded they had no direct ties. However, many believe the report is flawed and are calling for other studies to be done.

Many speakers at the hearing said they are holding out hope the city will spare the homes and create a museum recognizing Brooklyn?s role in the abolition movement.

The city council, Community Board 2 and Mayor Bloomberg all gave the go-ahead for the development plan in 2004.

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