2003-02-06 / Top Stories

Support Sought For Planned Canarsie History Museum

By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

Ramon Martinez holding anniversary issue of Canarsie Courier.                                  Charles RogersRamon Martinez holding anniversary issue of Canarsie Courier. Charles Rogers

It’s official. Our community will soon be able to display its rich and illustrious beginnings and background for the world to see at our own Canarsie History Museum. Complete plans have not been finalized, according to the board of organizers, but they already have an official charter establishing it as a bona fide educational institution.

Native Canarsiens and other buffs who have an interest in the background of our community have always been not only proud of our rich history, which dates from the 1600s and the Canarsee Indians, but willing and eager to share that history with others. Now, thanks to a group of entrepreneurs with similar thoughts, we may soon have a museum through which we can show off our past.

Ramon Martinez, who, along with Morton Werbel, Kevin Roth, Marshall Squeri and Louis Petrillo, heads the group of board members who recently acquired the provisional charter, said the charter is valid for a term of five years. Martinez met recently with Ira Kluger, co-president of the Canarsie Historical Society, and received his "complete" support, according to Kluger, who also said the Society will avail the museum of its collections of artifacts and memorabilia. The entrepreneur said he has also received the backing of political representatives and is currently seeking support from civic organizations, as well as individuals.

The Canarsie Courier has also offered its support and accessibility to its archives when the museum is established.

In a prospectus he is presenting to various groups, Martinez said he feels the museum will "help feed the community’s economy and give residents self-pride." He also noted how schools in the area will be able to visit the museum "as a special source of education, giving them a sense of history not found anywhere else."

"The museum will also be Canarsie’s first tourist attraction in over 60 years," he said, "ever since Golden City Amusement Park burned down in 1934."

The goal of the museum, the enthusiastic entrepreneur noted, is "to educate the general public of the rich, untold and unknown history that lies in Canarsie and how it has an effect on the borough and the city."

Martinez said that, when the project comes to fruition, it will feature four sections: Native American, Transit, Fire Department and Neighborhood Origins.

"Now we are seeking the support of the community," Martinez said. "We will shortly be talking with Community Board 18 and, eventually, every civic and block association, as well as official community leaders as we request their backing."

Martinez said a location for the project has not been decided yet.

"This is one of the items we want the community to help us with," he said. "What the community wants is what we want." Some suggestions included a location on the Avenue L shopping strip, which recently embarked on a campaign to revitalize it as a center of commercial activity.

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