Gowanus residents: Ex-prisoners not welcome here

The Brooklyn Paper
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Their sentence is life with parole.

Dozens of Gowanus residents turned out to a community meeting on Monday night to lambast representatives of the state prison system for keeping secret plans to consolidate all of Brooklyn’s parole offices into a three-story headquarters where Second Avenue dead-ends at the Gowanus Canal. Some neighbors said the 5,000 parolees prison reps said will be reporting to the new facility — 300–400 of them per day — will inundate the area with crime.

“This will be bringing an entirely new element into the neighborho­od,” said an agitated Denise Amses, a local business owner, speaking from the back of the crowded meeting room. “You can’t say this will make the neighborhood safe. It already is a safe neighborhood. This will absolutely change that.”

The facility under construction at 15 Second Ave. is on track to open in January, prison reps said at the meeting, but neighbors only became aware of it in July, when this paper broke news of the plan. The disclosure came a full year after the reps said the state inked a contract for the project. The lack of notice further infuriated locals.

“Please give us the respect of telling us that this is happening to our face,” said Matthew Fairley, emphasizing that he is not against the parole complex itself.

The four representatives on hand from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, which oversees parolees, apologized for the way outreach has been handled but made it clear that the project is moving full speed ahead. As for security concerns, they said that former inmates will be coming to Gowanus to fill out paperwork, not to do things that will send them back to jail.

“People are not going to be coming there with ill intent,” said Thomas Herzog, a deputy commissioner in the department.

And if somebody does try stepping out of line, Herzog said that between the metal detectors and the 120 armed “peace officers” that will be on hand, it will get handled. The pledge did not set councilman and gun control advocate Brad Lander (D–Gowanus) at ease.

“I don’t want 120 armed peace officers in the neighborho­od!” Lander yelled.

Nor did the crowd seem mollified when one prison spokeswoman said the only major incident she has experienced was in 2010, when a paroled murderer shot his parole officer point blank in the Downtown office.

The prison delegation kept its cool for the most part, but at one point none of the state officials present could come up with the name of the building’s owner. They shuffled through papers in search of a clue but ultimately moved on to the next question without answering. The owner is Chaim Simkowitz of Guardian Realty Management, a Kensington real estate firm.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

jjm from c. hill says:
Not welcomed there? These gentries have some nerve. There's some prisoners coming home that used to live in gowanus years ago so if anything, the newbies are the ones who shouldnt be welcomed. This is a prime example of the columbus syndrome.
Sept. 16, 2014, 10:53 am
Gladys from bed-stuy says:
Brad lander sucks. He's also a bit of a dolt. A bourgeois dolt. Parolees don't re offend outside the parole office. That's just dumb.
Sept. 16, 2014, 2:09 pm
Esperanza from Park Slope (homeowner since 1974) says:
People go to jail as punishment for crime. They are released after they've paid their debt to society and satisfied the terms of their conviction. The idea od shunning or exiling people that have done their time is repugnant. One can only assume that these self-entitled ——s creeping into Gowanus would also support stripping these people of their right to vote and hold a decent-paying job. This continued disintegration of Brooklyn into a sterile, Stepford Wife, urban-free suburb is nauseating. I'd rather have a parolee on my block than one more —— with a yoga mat and Starbucks in one hand, standing next to a stroller blocking the sidewalk, while heir little brat cries because they can't have Pinkberry. The neighborhoods here have evolved from multi-cultural and diverse to uptight, self-centered high-end white trash with black nannies that they pay off the books with no taxes, healthcare, or employee rights.
Sept. 16, 2014, 6:35 pm
Rob from Park Slope says:
Brad Lander is possibly the worst Councilman this district has had in decades. Hopefully we see him defeated in the future - or the rumors of his corruption fully documented.
Sept. 16, 2014, 6:36 pm
jay from nyc says:
It is my understanding that Mr. Lander has been doing some deals and holding secret meetings (at least from what I remember from a BP article awhile ago, so I could be a bit fuzzy/off on things) so I guess having a parole office there cold mess up his "secret"plans. As for him noting wanting armed police in the hood, that is something that really makes no sense, unless he is just anti-police to a pretty extreme extent.
Sept. 16, 2014, 8:46 pm
Mr. Bojangles from Gowanus says:
I have to say that I am deeply embarrassed by some of the things my neighbors and block association members have been saying, both privately and to the press, about this parole center opening. They have applauded every single business that has sprouted up on Third Avenue, like Whole Foods and the Morbid Anatomy Museum, which have already increased traffic to this once sleepy neighborhood and driven rents sky high, and yet when state services come to the neighborhood the traffic is suddenly a problem. "It's going to be bad for business!" they've said, when in reality it won't be. "I'm concerned about safety!" they've said, when there is in fact no basis for concern. One person said, "I didn't realize how many of THEM will be in our community." Them? Ladies and Gentlemen of Gowanus, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Esperanza (commenting above) has assessed you with scorn that you have earned, and I join her in admonishing you to open your minds and hearts to those who have made mistakes and are working to rebuild their lives through the parole system. In the end, it's not us and them; it's only us.
Sept. 16, 2014, 9:31 pm
City Dog from Gowanus - 8th St says:
I am hearing a lot of comments that residents of Gowanus should be embarrassed of including the people on my street. What sort of neighborhood has this become? We all have to look at ourselves and look back when we were accepting of all people (whatever there position in life). The best thing could happen is that the center is successful in getting the paroles back on their feet and contributing to the neighborhood. Who knows one of them could become a new business owner or landlord and we will be looking for their help and support on a community matter. And they will remember how this community treated them.
Sept. 16, 2014, 9:59 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
If having a parole building in gowanus is what it takes to drive down the rents there then im all for it. I still dont understand why people are paying that much money to live in an area that is still relilatively industrial & ghetto-ish looking in some parts. But like i said, if its gonna help get the rent lowered & hopefully run out some snobs, thumbs up.
Sept. 16, 2014, 10:15 pm
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
Since they don't want a parole office They should open a homeless shelter instead...
Sept. 17, 2014, 4:58 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Given their horrific track record, I'm much more concerned and upset at 120 extra "peace officers" being in the area.
Sept. 17, 2014, 7:23 am
no-permits from brooklyn says:
brad lander is a sham
Sept. 17, 2014, 7:57 am
jjm from c. hill says:
If you newbies dont want the office there then think about packing up & moving. Trust me, Bk will be oh so fine without you. Besides, your little gentrified paradise isnt gonna last forever.
Sept. 17, 2014, 8:53 am
gowanus cares from gowanus says:
its encouraging to read people caring about helping others instead of worrying about seeing this parole center from whole foods. this center will be good for individuals in need of moving their lives forward., good for gowanus and good for society. whole foods is non of those things. remember when whole foods claimed they wanted to be a "community center"? to be so, i suggest whole foods collaborate with the fortune society and hire some of these parolees. then i might start shopping there.
Sept. 17, 2014, 10:19 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
jjim, esperanza - RIHGT ON the white bread whining class is in full force showing their noble tolerance.
Sept. 17, 2014, 10:30 am
DumbleDore from Park Slope says:
Nothing sadder than listening to a bunch of Townies stuck in the past spewing brain farts. Bitter judgmental = pathetic. It is 2014, New York has changed, Brooklyn is rapidly changing. While the Gowanus movement is humorous to watch because they are not particularly deft, like someone pawing for their glasses in the dark of night - the last time i checked, people have free will and the opportunity to voice their opinion. So go on, judge them the same way they judge parolees. The hypocricy is deafening.
Sept. 17, 2014, 12:45 pm
Esperanza says:
DumbleDore - Thank you for posting. You demonstrate the exact arrogance and sociopathic disregard that many of the commentators here noted. Your ilk see Brooklyn as nothing more than a brand and a label that you will co-opt, because you want to associate yourself with someplace unique, authentic, orignal, and cool. Brooklyn is about neighborhoods wher people take the time to know one another. Instesd we get gate crashers similar to you that rush down the street oblivious to those around them. You know, the people that whirl by on the sidewalks and won't look you in the eye. The people that have settled down here and now see all the life-long residents as "suspicious characters". On the one hand you ought to be dismissed, because you are not representative of what this borough is. On the other, you ought to be duck-taped to a school chair and educated in the history of the borough - and, in your case, the history of the Gowanus Canal and surrounding area, from the first European encounter with the Gowanus Creek to its role in the Revolutionary War, from its importance to manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th century to its historical importance (toxicity notwithstanding). Ultimately, the biggest problem our neighborhoods face is not so much the ignorance of some new people in our communities as much as the blathering of self-serving ——s. For an example of this type of behavior, see your post above.
Sept. 17, 2014, 5:31 pm
gowanus cares from gowanus says:
here's a business (capitalist?) approach to this: instead of fearing 'them', how about imagining the parolees, the officers and staff as prospective patrons of local businesses and restaurants? would'nt that be good for the gowanus economy?
Sept. 17, 2014, 11:05 pm
Sept. 18, 2014, 1 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
So, if the state decided to build a supermax in the middle of Gowanus without informing anyone in the community, you all would have no problem with that? What about a slaughterhouse? A rendering plant? What about a fracking operation? Of course you would have a problem with that. What is going on here is a handful of haters seizing on something nobody would take lying down to press an agenda against newcomers to Brooklyn, who, it must be mentioned, probably do not constitute the majority of the people in the Gowanus who are protesting the DoC's actions.
Sept. 18, 2014, 11:02 pm
Cap from LEFTOVER says:
i hate the filthy hipsters that hang out and live here!
I live here all my life! I still dont want ex-cons walking up my block! Thank you!
Sept. 19, 2014, 5:54 am
Pab from Gowanus says:
Someone should suggest a way to partner with factories and allow jib opportunities to these men and women. Being productive is not only about drinking coffee and eating bajed goods. Tattoes are equal weather you are a hipster, or a parolster.
I do not totally hate it if it keeps developers away.
Sept. 19, 2014, 11:59 am
tmp from clinton hill says:
Are people serious? Did development not happen around the Brooklyn Correctional Facility in downtown Brooklyn, or did it not?

Gentrifiers have some goddamn nerve. It'll probably make the neighborhood SAFER having all that police presence, AND diversify the neighborhood. Let's welcome these people back to society and show our kids not everything exists through rose colored lenses. Maybe they might even figure out ways to help these folks (god forbid).
Oct. 16, 2014, 8:50 pm
no-permits from brooklyn says:
brad lander is the next politician to go to jail for corruption. lander is a crook. brad lander is a scam artist in a suit.
Aug. 4, 2015, 11:05 pm

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