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Slammer time! City will reopen House of D next month

The Brooklyn Paper
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Boerum Hill residents fear their lawns and planters will once again become stash spots for drugs, knives and other jail contraband when the Brooklyn House of Detention reopens next month.

Locals worry that jail visitors will use their stoops to store illicit goods while they catch up with detainees at the 759-bed Atlantic Avenue facility, which has been closed for nearly a decade.

“I’ll definitely tell my kids to avoid Atlantic Avenue,” said Tad Hills, who claims he had a bad experience on the street when jailbirds yelled at his children a few years ago. “Especially when I’ve found what looked like a baggie of heroin in my planter before.”

Corrections officials shuttered the House of D in 2003 due to budget cuts, but always planned to reopen the facility to ease the strain on Rikers Island. In the years since, the authorities used the jail to temporarily house prisoners during the day and to shuttle them through tunnels connected to criminal courts.

In February, the resurrected pen near Smith Street will begin housing pre-trial detainees from Brooklyn and Staten Island, and inmates serving sentences of a year or less.

Neighbors aren’t looking forward to it — especially those who recall when their block housed a cellblock.

“We all remember prisoners in shackles being paraded down residential streets,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association. “This is something that families don’t want to confront.”

But this time, locals claim they won’t let the lockup’s operations tarnish their streets. Working with the jail, they’ve even created an advisory council.

“Everyone in the neighborhood knew this day was coming,” said Kolins, one of the council’s six members. “We plan to keep the police and the Department of Corrections on their toes.”

The council, however, can only make “nonbinding recommenda­tions” concerning jail operations.

Boerum Hill has gone increasingly upscale since the detention center shut down, with condos and the boutique Nu Hotel rising around the corner — though there is a bail bondsman next door.

Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, said she was more worried about House of D workers taking up parking spaces used by Atlantic Avenue merchants, with as many as 100 jail employees working during peak shifts.

Before the jail closed, corrections officers would routinely park on the sidewalk and block fire hydrants and handicapped spots, Balboza claims.

“The Department of Corrections is in the Boerum Hill community and the community needs to be respected,” said Balboza, who claims corrections officers routinely parked on the sidewalk and blocked fire hydrants and handicapped spots before the jail closed. “We’re going to make sure that we have a dialogue on these issues.”

Corrections spokeswoman Sharman Stein said the jail will try to be the kind of neighbor all Brooklynites wish they had.

“The facility is here, we have need for it, and we’re going to be the best neighbors we can be,” she said.

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.
Updated 5:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

ty from pps says:
Let me help out the "townie" douche bags...

Transplants always trying to "fix" things when they move to Brooklyn. Please leave us alone and let us have our history. Drugs and guns are part of our heritage. Can't wait til all of you are tired of this "experience" and head back to the suburbs to become lame soccer parents. some people need to get a life and leave us to our brooklyn culture and the way we have and always will do things here.

(How was that?)
Jan. 9, 2012, 8:46 am
Dave from Park Slope says:
Ty, that was quite good: A-
Jan. 9, 2012, 9:12 am
Joe Blow from Bay Ridge says:
Ty, that's a moronic post.
Jan. 9, 2012, 9:37 am
Josef from Clinton Hill says:
1. "corrections officers would routinely park on the sidewalk and block fire hydrants and handicapped spots"

I see this already from the skeleton police staff that seems to have been at the facility since summer. It should not be tolerated. COs should be ticketed just like private citizens, no excuses, no "thin blue line."

2. "“We all remember prisoners in shackles being paraded down residential streets,” said Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association. “This is something that families don’t want to confront.”"

On the other hand, Mr. Kolins and his cohort of NIMBYs ought to shut their yaps. I'd give up a lot to live in one of the brownstones they've got, so for them to complain because they have to shoulder some of the burden of city living is appalling. They can console themselves by remembering how it could be worse - their southern neighbors have to smell the Gowanus instead.
Jan. 9, 2012, 11:08 am
Native Son from Clinton Hill says:
Let's not forget that downtown Brooklyn is home to 6 court houses. I work in one of them. The Brooklyn House of Detention has been here since 1958. My father opened up the place working as a Corrections Officer there. The Detention facility serves the Criminal Court House that it was built behind. The courts administer justice as well as more than contributes to the downtown economy. I hate it when gentrifiers move into a neighborhood and then attempt to convert the neighborhood to their suburban standards. The jailhouse has been there for over 40 years, was there before the gentry got there, and serves a civic purpose. The advisory board is a great idea. Maybe some of the gentry's concerns can be addressed. But let's not forget that the jail, and other people, were here before you got here. You now live in an urban environment. Let's all try to get along.

Brooklyn resident for 58 years.
Jan. 9, 2012, 2:04 pm
John from All City says:
Well said Native Son.

(Ty, does his comment bother you as well?)
Jan. 9, 2012, 4:32 pm
ty from pps says:
Umm... No. It doesn't. It was actually a reasonable and rational thought that recognizes CHANGE and COMPLEXITY in a city.

Please note -- "The advisory board is a great idea. Maybe some of the gentry's concerns can be addressed. But let's not forget that the jail, and other people, were here before you got here. You now live in an urban environment. Let's all try to get along."

Notice the last sentence? Notice how that sounds VERY different than your comments, John.
Jan. 9, 2012, 4:34 pm
Jean from Cobble Hill says:
None of us want to have our loved ones...yes prisoners have wives and children, brothers and sisters....in jail. When the House of Dentention was in use I would always see the the families lined up at visiting hours. It is far easier to get to Atlantic Ave. than the most difficult trip to Rikers. Have a heart folks.
Jan. 9, 2012, 8:12 pm
fatimah from cobble hill says:
Seeing convicts shackled on Atlantic Avenue is part of living in Brooklyn. You can't gentrify a prison. Crime doesn't pay. It's good to get a reminder of that.
Jan. 10, 2012, 7:14 am
adamben from bedstuy says:
planters or perhaps flower beds around the prison? calming colors for the building itself? maybe a stash truck, like they have at schools for cell phones?
Jan. 10, 2012, 11:17 am

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