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Advocates seeking to co-name a portion of Utica Avenue to “Guyana Avenue” are settling for a shorter-than-proposed stretch of road, after members of Community Board 18 rejected their proposal at this month’s meeting.
Members of the Utica Co-naming Committee originally proposed that a three-mile stretch of Utica Ave (from Eastern Parkway to Avenue H) be co-named after the Caribbean state to celebrate the achievements of the Guyanese community in Brooklyn.
That passes through three different community boards — 9, 17 and 18.
Community boards 9 and 17 approved the plan, but CB18 members voted on March 15 to not include the two blocks under its jurisdiction in the co-naming (from Foster Avenue to Avenue H), citing concerns about the lack of inclusion of other Caribbean nations and the size of the coverage area.
The 2010 US Census data revealed that there are around 370,000 Caribbean descendants in Brooklyn — about 14% of the borough’s population.
As a result, the Brooklynites pushing the idea will move forward in the already-approved areas — the stretch of Utica Avenue that runs from the Eastern Parkway down to Foster Avenue.
“It is unfortunate that CB 18 did not approve our request to include in the proposed area of co-naming, Utica Avenue from Foster Avenue to Avenue H, to ‘Guyana Avenue,’” Committee member Derrick Arjune told Brooklyn Paper. “We thank the board for the courtesy and consideration given to our request.”
Community Board 18 previously postponed a proposed vote on the co-naming at February’s monthly meeting after members raised concerns over the length of the stretch of road and whether the name was inclusive of the other Caribbean communities in the area.
The Utica Co-naming Committee appeared before the community board again on March 15 where its request to include the stretch of road from Avenue H to Foster Avenue was voted down after neither side agreed to compromise on the issues raised the month prior.
Shree Fraser, District Manager of CB17 and part of the Utica Ave Co-naming Committee, told CB18 members the co-naming had a “purpose” and that the committee ultimately intends to have the area co-named Guyana Ave designated as a Business Improvement District.
Board member Naomi Hopkins raised the issue with Fraser that the co-naming “sounds as though there is a multi-phase plan in place and we’re only privy to a small part of it.”
“I think some other member, I know I for sure, would feel more comfortable making a decision on this if I understood the bigger picture,” she said during the March 15 meeting.
“This is the beginning of a plan,” Fraser responded, adding that committee members intend to strategize on how the co-naming can be effective once all the paperwork and funding is finalized.
The next step for the co-naming will be for the committee to submit the approvals from community boards 9 and 17 to the City Council Member who represents the area for inclusion into a Council bill.
Also in attendance at the meeting was Council Member Farah Louis who backed the Guyana Avenue co-naming as long as it “doesn’t trickle into areas that people don’t want.”
“I didn’t know that it extended into [CB] 18 and into Avenue H because the folks in CB 18 have other ideas, things they want to do that I’m in full supportive as well,” Louis said, adding that she would support the co-naming committee’s potential future bid for “Guyana Avenue” to become a Business Improvement District.
The initiative from the Guyana Avenue Committee follows the co-naming of Queens’ Liberty Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard to “Little Guyana Avenue” in 2021. (Brooklyn Paper).