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FiDi Residents Sue City to Block Probation Office on John Street

By  Julie  Shapiro and Irene Plagianos | December 27, 2013 9:36am 

 Residents sued the city over the plan for a probation office at 66 John St.
Residents sued the city over the plan for a probation office at 66 John St.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

MANHATTAN — Financial District residents are suing the city over a plan to move a probation office to 66 John St., saying they fear it will inundate their neighborhood with convicted criminals.

The residents — along with neighboring Pace University and Century 21 — filed a lawsuit Thursday in New York State Supreme Court in an attempt to halt the city's plan to open a Department of Probation office serving about 200 convicts each week on the narrow block.

The suit alleges that the city did not adequately study the potential impact of the office — which would contain kiosks where New Yorkers who are sentenced to probation instead of jail time would be required to check in regularly — before signing a lease for the 35,000-square-foot space.

"Our efforts to convince the administration that moving the Department of Probation's Adult Court operations to 66 John St., in the heart of the fastest-growing residential area in the city, is a bad idea apparently fell on deaf ears," said Patrick Kennell, one of the residents who filed the lawsuit.

"We believe we are left with no choice but to file a lawsuit and request an immediate injunction, asserting the city has failed to follow land use, environmental and 'fair share' review procedures required by law."

The office — which is currently located at 346 Broadway in a building the city recently sold — would not serve sex offenders, but it would serve people who were convicted of misdemeanors and felonies.

The city's Law Department issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the department had just received the court papers and was reviewing them.

The Financial District residents' lawsuit comes on the heels of a successful attempt by TriBeCa residents to block a summons court from moving from 346 Broadway to 71 Thomas St.

The TriBeCa residents and business owners had sued the city in November over the move, making a similar claim that the proposal should have gone through the city's environmental review process. The summons court would have served about 600 people a day who were paying or contesting fines for offenses including disorderly conduct and marijuana possession.

The city agreed not to move the summons court to 71 Thomas St. for at least five years in return for the residents dismissing their suit. Officials have not yet announced where the summons court will move instead.