A Brooklyn community group that formed in opposition to a massive proposed parole center in Gowanus has achieved a major victory as the state has agreed to scale back plans for the facility, which had been intended to serve 6,000 ex-criminals per month.
Katie Toth, Village Voice Protesters in November demonstrating near the site of the future Gowanus parole center
The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision announced on January 14 that it had settled a lawsuit filed in November 2014 by Gowanus United — a collective of nearby residents and business owners who opposed the facility — that accused the state of sidestepping city zoning laws to build the center and failing to consult the community before submitting plans. Residents argued that the center, located at 15 Second Avenue near the Gowanus Canal, would flood the neighborhood — which includes schools, churches, and many small businesses — with thousands of potentially dangerous past offenders, as well as impede truck traffic in the manufacturing-heavy neighborhood.
As part of the negotiated settlement, the state agreed to reduce the number of parolees reporting to the facility from 6,000 to 2,000, at least for the first two years of operation. During that time, the Department of Corrections will create a program of decentralized reporting locations throughout Brooklyn to serve the remaining 4,000 parolees.