Downtown residents protest plan to move some criminal-justice offices

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:03

    Downtown residents protest plan to move some criminal-justice offices

    At a Community Board 1 meeting on Oct. 22, more than 100 Tribeca residents came to protest a city plan to move a criminal summons court to 71 Thomas Street, in a residential neighborhood with a high concentration of schools.

    Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and other city officials attended the meeting to allay residents' fears, but they addressed the meeting only after the majority of those who showed up to oppose the move had left. This led one board member to ask the officials why they didn't make their presence known earlier. Holloway said the timing was unintentional.

    At the same meeting, Holloway said the Department of Probation will be moving from 346 Broadway to 66 John Street. A probation spokesperson later confirmed that the probation department's Manhattan Adult Operations office would be moving to John Street sometime in early-2014. As part of the move, approximately 200 lower-risk Manhattan probation clients will be checking in on ATM-like kiosk machines every week.

    The department said the majority of these low-risk probationers are initially arrested for drug possession, larceny and DWI and that no sex offenders will be checking in on John Street.

    When news of the moves broke, CB1 members expressed anger that they weren't consulted before the decisions were made and that information about city plans wasn't given to them sooner.

    "It's a very complicated plan and they're not really interested in disclosing the details unless they have to," said Michael Connolly, co-chair of CB1's Tribeca Committee. "The disclosure of the move to 66 John Street at the meeting the other night was fortuitous and completely unintentional."

    Catherine McVay-Hughes, chair of CB1, said she's reassured that city officials were at the board meeting but that everyone was surprised with news of the Dept. of Probation move to 66 John Street.

    "The community was blindsided by the information that was revealed on Tuesday night," said McVay-Hughes.

    Ro Sheffe, co-chair of CB1's Financial District Committee, where the probation department will be moving, said the Oct. 22 meeting was the first he's heard of the move. When asked if there's been a lack of communication from City Hall on these relocations, Jeffe said, "If we don't have the information that we need to make an informed decision."

    Sheffe said the Financial District Committee will be addressing the probation department move at a meeting on Nov. 6.

    "At this point we're operating in somewhat of a vacuum of information," said Sheffe. "We only know that something is going to move and where it is going to move, and we need a lot more information in order to make an informed decision on how we feel about it."

    A city official told Our Town Downtown the relocations are part of the city's 21st Century Civic Center plan, which seeks to dispose of aging and inefficient city-owned office buildings in lower Manhattan and relocate the agencies within to more modern work environments. The official did not say how many governmental agencies were being moved in total.