NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A huge new parole facility in Brooklyn opens in a few weeks, and neighbors say they had no idea it was coming.
If the state has its way thousands of state parolees will start reporting to a massive facility on Second Ave in January, but a lawsuit from neighbors who have formed a group called ‘Gowanus United’ is trying to stop that from happening.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, the group held a rally on Wednesday.
“It’s just way too big, way too big for this neighborhood. Also, safety,” Adine Pusey said.
There are schools nearby, including one a block away.
The nearest subway station is at Smith and 9th, nearly a half a mile away.
“That sends a message that we’re trying to hide away parole offices,” Jeremy Saunders said.
Saunders is with VOCAL New York, a group that advocates for people who’ve been influenced by the prison system, he agrees that the location is a poor choice, but said that parolees have every reason not to want to worry the neighbors.
“If anything people on parole are trying to reduce their contact with police. I mean this is a group of people that are trying to not go back to prison, they’re under state supervision, and if anything they’re trying to keep their head down,” Saunders said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the center is definitely too out of the way.
“The goal is not to put obstacles in the way of parolees. Allow them to be productive citizens in any way possible,” he said.
But he agreed that the neighbors’ concerns are legitimate.
“I don’t think this is the average NIMBY, ‘Not In MY Backyard.’ That is not what the residents are saying,” he added.
He said that the state should have heard what they had to say, but the building quietly went up.
“This was done without any local community input at all. This is not how government should operate,” Adams said.
The State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision said the area along the canal is still a predominately industrial area. It’s addressing the safety concerns, and said it will have more than a hundred armed peace officers, who can arrest anyone they see committing a crime.
“That, to me, does not make me feel safe. It actually makes me wonder how safe it will in fact be,” one resident said.
It’s not just residents who want to put a stop to the facility, but at least one local business owner said it would be disruptive because Gowanus is one of the few places left in the city where you can still manufacture things.
The state would not comment on pending litigation, but is expected to respond to the lawsuit on December 4.
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