The City Council passed a measure on Tuesday night to name a portion of Union Avenue to Bangladesh Boulevard in recognition of the city’s growing Bengali community.
Under the measure, a two-block section of Union Avenue from Sheridan to Wayne Avenue, a thoroughfare that has Bengali-owned businesses on both sides of the street, will be also known as Bangladesh Boulevard.
“This is a recognition of our community, the Bangladeshi community,” said Shahin Khalique, 2nd Ward councilman.
Khalique is the second Bangladeshi-American man elected to the City Council.
“Our relations goes back to the early 1970s, when we didn’t have a strong Bengali community, except for one family on 11th Avenue,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman.
Other council members praised the community for its contribution to the city.
“Their students are excellent students in our schools,” added Al Abdelaziz, 6th Ward councilman. Bengali students dominate academics in Paterson schools and the Passaic County Technical Institute.
“It gives us honor just to see, year in and year out, every June, the top students are Bengali students,” said council president Maritza Davila.
There is an estimated 15,000 Bengalis in Paterson, according to former councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, who was the first Bengali elected to the City Council in 2012. He said there’s roughly 25,000 in Passaic County.
A few dozen Bengalis appeared at the City Council on Tuesday night. Many had small flags of Bangladesh and paper cutouts of “Bangladesh Blvd” street sign.
The group packed half of the City Council chambers and celebrated following the unanimous approval of the street naming resolution.
The city will unveil a street sign at the location at a future date. This is the second street named to recognize the Bengali community. In 2015, a section of Van Houten Street was named Jalalabad Street.
“I’m looking forward to the celebration which, hopefully, will be held in June. It’s going to be huge,” said Khalique.