The New York state budget that recently passed includes financing to rename a subway station in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in honor of the neighborhood’s Haitian culture.
The 2021-2022 budget lawmakers agreed to April 12 includes a bill that calls for the renaming of the Newkirk Avenue subway train station, on the 2-5 Nostrand Avenue train line, as “Newkirk Avenue – Little Haiti” station.
After first introducing the bill last year, its sponsor Rodneyse Bichotte-Hermelyn, who represents Assembly District 42, said she got support from her colleagues to include it in this year’s budget.
New York’s budget also includes $2.1 billion in cash assistance, known as the Excluded Workers Fund, for residents who were left out of federal pandemic relief efforts. Recipients will predominantly include undocumented immigrants.
“The Little Haiti train station stop is literally the heart of a lot of excluded workers,” Bichotte-Hermelyn said. “It’s just a heavily immigrant population, obviously a good majority of them are of Haitain descent, but we have other English-speaking Caribbean countries. So we certainly wanted to capture that, to say ‘we’re not going anywhere.’”
Bichotte-Hermelyn said she anticipates the renaming to occur within six to eight months. The $250,000 allocated for the project allows the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to update the signage ‒ on the sidewalk near the subway entrance and on the train platform itself, to reflect the new name. The MTA will also update the audio systems in the trains and on the platforms, she said.
The subway renaming is part of the Little Haiti initiative, which according to Bichotte-Hermelyn’s bill to rename the subway is designed to enhance economic development and culture in Flatbush, while honoring the neighborhood’s Haitian character.
Three years prior, the New York City council passed a resolution recognizing the Little Haiti Business and Cultural District. The area is contained by Avenue H, Brooklyn Avenue, Parkside Avenue and East 16th Street.
Since the resolution, sections of Nostrand Avenue and Rogers Avenue located within the cultural district have been co-named Toussaint Louverture Boulevard and Jean Jacques Dessalines Boulevard, respectively.
Jackson Rockingster, president of the Haitian American Business Network (HABNET) who co-led the Little Haiti designation effort with Bichotte-Hermelyn, said the subway renaming further honors the contributions of Haitians in America.
“It’s been too long that our work has not been recognized,” said Rockingster. “We want to thank [Bichotte-Hermelyn] who spearheaded this, and all the elected officials, the senate and assembly members, who supported this initiative.”