Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Two realities in Fort Greene

The Atlantic Yards project, and other development in and around Downtown Brooklyn, occurs in a context of gentrification with many left behind. That context has led to an embrace, by some, of a Community Benefits Agreement that seems to offer some answers. (Still, the CBA linked to Columbia's West Harlem development is proceeding differently.)

Fort Greene, with stark poverty across the park from steady gentrification, may be as emblematically paradoxical a neighborhood as there is in New York. Consider this closing passage from a 1/1/07 New York Times article headlined Homicides Up in New York; Other Crimes Keep Falling:
The sense that New Yorkers are increasingly inhabiting two different realities seems particularly strong in places like Fort Greene, Brooklyn, home to a thriving cafe scene and crime-plagued public housing complexes.
Eleven homicides were recorded in the neighborhood last year, compared with none in 2005.
Strolling along a stretch of DeKalb Avenue by Fort Greene Park late last week, Cheryl Pickett, 36, said she had no idea that murders had risen so sharply in the area.
Ms. Pickett, who has lived in Fort Greene for five years, said her perception of the neighborhood had not changed. She still thinks of it as a safe, child-friendly place with charming shops and bars.
“When things happen, it’s really surprising,” Ms. Pickett said. “This year seems no different than last.”


Let's assume that, on the other side of Fort Greene Park, in the Whitman and Ingersoll projects, the comments might have been different.

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