Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Clinton Hill City Council Member Laurie Cumbo said history and not politics is behind their strong and highly-principled views for wanting a street co-naming of a late Clinton Hill businessman.
The lawmakers’ response came to yesterday’s KCP story that Community Board 2 voted against the co-naming of Putnam Avenue between Grand and Downing streets for Cecil Collymore because of the feeling it was a move to appease their political ally, former Democratic district leader Renee Collymore, Cecil’s daughter.
Cecil bought properties on the block and opened businesses on it when it was prostitution and drug addled. He and his wife, Beatrice, invested and built up the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill communities when others abandoned it, long before it was “discovered” as a trendy neighborhood, according to several published reports. He also aided in the building of a church and fought against the closing against Julia Richman High School.
“I am in strong support of co-naming part of Putnam Avenue for Cecil Collymore, a community leader who invested his heart and soul into Clinton Hill at a time when few were willing to give the neighborhood a chance. I served as a lieutenant in the 88th Precinct, policing the streets during days when neighbors woke up to gun shots instead of alarm clocks,” said Adams.
“Cecil Collymore was an anchor during those tough times in Brooklyn’s history, and his work is part of the foundation on which our current success has been built. We should honor the commitment of our borough’s remarkable residents and ensure that history honors their accomplishments. As our borough evolves and our communities change, we must recognize our responsibility as keepers of the full legacy that has made Brooklyn’s bright future possible. Displacing neighborhood pillars from our memory would be a serious mistake, salt in the wound that is the displacement of far too many from communities like Clinton Hill.
“I am disappointed that Community Board 2 did not vote for this renaming, and I hope that the City Council will offer this proposal the consideration and support that it deserves going forward.”
Cumbo said there are individuals who contributed to the success and vitality of Brooklyn at a time when it was not considered popular or a sound financial investment.
“Mr. Cecil Collymore is one such individual who opened a series of businesses on Putnam Avenue at a time when financial divestment was the order of the day. As the neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill continue to change as far as demographics, it is unfortunate that there are very few if any indications of the contributions or accomplishments of African-Americans to the fabric of these neighborhoods,” said Cumbo.
“It is unfortunate that the Community Board did not recognize the valuable contributions of a successful local business owner to the development of the community and it is my hope that we can work together to find an amenable solution to preserving his legacy,” she added.