When the Brooklyn Detention Complex reopened last week, articles sprung up in many New York publications quoting residents expressing their fears of having men who broke the law housed so close to their doorstep.
However, it seems that the biggest concern for many residents of Boerum Hill are not the men being housed at 275 Atlantic Avenue, but rather, where will the Department of Corrections employees park their cars and correction vans?
“Mostly when you talk to people, they go, ‘Oh my God, it’s another, how many people working, bringing their cars to downtown?’” said Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “The big concern is traffic.”
The Brooklyn Detention Complex opened its doors in 1957 as the Brooklyn House of Detention. The facility was closed in June 2003 with plans to double its capacity.
Approximately 500 employees will staff the jail, seven days a week. That’s an average 50 to 100 correction officers per shift. The single-cell jailhouse at full capacity will house 759 men, most awaiting trial in Brooklyn and Staten Island courts.
“We are committed to ease residents parking fears. Our staff have been asked to take public transportation to and from the facility,” said Sharman Stein, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information of the NYC Department of Correction. But just in case they do drive, the department spokesman says, the facility has it covered.
“We have a corrections officer who will be patrolling the building 24/7 to deal with any parking violations,” added Stein.
Residents aren’t only worried about more cars parked in the area, some fear visitors might smuggle illegal goods into the facility.
“People have some concern about visitors coming through the jail with some contrabands; again that’s something we think both the police and the DOC will keep an eye on,” said Kolins.
Some nearby businesses expect to profit from the jail reopening. Fast-food spots including a Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts, are located in the area, as well as several bond shops.
“I look at it in the same way as if a hospital had opened. It expands more business, with people being there 24 hours long. People need to get coffee, go on coffee breaks, get dry-cleaning done,” said Adero Gaudin, who works at the Bail Shop directly across from the facility. “It’s helped everyone in this little community.”
“Traffic is not a problem yet,” added Gaudin, who fears that once the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards opens in September 2012, congestion will increase.
“The stadium is going to be ten times worse in terms of traffic,” she said.
So far, approximately 150 inmates have been brought over from Rikers Island, which will shut down parts of the institution for refurbishment over the summer.
“We are moving them gradually over the next couple of weeks,” said Stein, adding that the move is expected to be completed by the end of March.
Residents who remember the detention center before it shuttered its doors in 2006, barely blinked this week when inmates began to arrive.
“Longtime residents were always aware that the jail would reopen, “ said Kolins. “So it doesn’t come as a shock. What is of some concern is that the area immediately adjacent is very residential.”
However, newly arrived residents who paid a pretty penny for the properties are said to be upset. A house on nearby Slate Street was sold for $3.4 million in July 2011.
“Most residents are not thrilled about the jail, but it makes sense that it services the [nearby] court house. And for the prisoners, it lessens the burden for anyone going through that,” added neighborhood association president Kolins.
“We’re all human-beings at the end of the day,” said bail shop owner Gaudin.