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Residents Bash Plan for Summons Court in TriBeCa, as City Defends Move

By Irene Plagianos | October 23, 2013 4:37pm
  More than 1,000 people have signed a petition asking to stop the move of a summons court to 71 Thomas Street.
Residents Protest Move of TriBeCa Court
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TRIBECA — Angry residents slammed the city’s plan to move a low-level criminal court from the Civic Center to a narrow street in TriBeCa Tuesday night, as city officials continued to defend the move, saying it could actually decrease the amount of court activity in the neighborhood.

Nearly 100 upset locals packed Community Board 1’s monthly meeting to protest the summons court — which deals with low-level offenses including littering, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession — and said they fear the court's move to 40 Worth St. would bring potentially dangerous people to their quiet block. More than 1,300 people have signed a petition aiming to derail the plans.

“This may be the biggest risk to TriBeCa that we’ve ever seen,” said Curry Ford, a resident of Duane Street. “This will rock this neighborhood to the core.”

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway tried to soothe the attendees at the Community Board 1 meeting Tuesday, explaining that the court, which will draw about 600 people daily, will simply involve people paying tickets for "minor infractions."

Residents have raised concerns that people heading to court may line up in the street, as they do now at 346 Broadway, where the summons court is currently located. But Holloway said there would be a larger, 250-person waiting space in the new location, eliminating the outdoor lines.

Holloway added that there would be no holding cells in the court's new building, which was something locals had worried about.

Holloway and court officials also explained to opponents that the move to 40 Worth St. was part of a larger reorganization of Lower Manhattan's courts, which could improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.

The Department of Probation's case management office, "where people with actual criminal records go every day," is also moving out of 346 Broadway and is heading down to 66 John St. in the Financial District, Holloway said.

In addition, as part of the redevelopment of 346 Broadway, a new $20 million children's educational center will be moving into the building under an agreement with developers who bought the formerly city-owned structure for $160 million.

But residents and CB1 members remained unconvinced.

“Even if these are minor offenses, these are still people who may be drinking on the street, acting disorderly — they can still be potentially more dangerous, bad guys,” said CB1 member Allan Tannenbaum.

Holloway did not say when the city plans to move the court, and he did not say whether the city would consider alternatives.

CB1 voted unanimously to oppose the summons court move.