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Judge Clears Way for Probation Office's Controversial Move to FiDi

 A new probation office is coming to 66 John St.
A new probation office is coming to 66 John St.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — A judge has cleared the way for a controversial probation office to open in the Financial District next week, shooting down a lawsuit residents had filed to stop the plans.

Angry residents — along with neighboring Pace University and Century 21 — had filed suit against the city in December to stop the probation office's move to 66 John St., fearing that it would bring dangerous criminals to the neighborhood.

But on Wednesday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Carol Huff denied the residents' request for a temporary restraining order blocking the Department of Probation from moving the office. Huff wrote in a two-sentence decision that the residents were not likely to win their case against the city, so she saw no reason for the temporary restraining order.

“Petitioners have not demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits,” Huff wrote.

Her decision means that the Department of Probation can open the office as planned on Jan. 17, with kiosks where New Yorkers who are sentenced to probation instead of jail time would be required to check in regularly. The office will not serve sex offenders, but it will serve people who were convicted of misdemeanors and felonies.

Patrick Kennell, one of the residents who filed the suit, said while the group is contemplating an appeal of the decision, he is unsure of the next steps since the city's move is imminent.

"We are certainly disappointed with the judge's ruling," Kennell said. "We are reviewing our options at this point, but, more importantly, we hope that, despite there being no temporary restraining order today, the city's new administration reviews its options in light of the Financial District residents' and business owners' overwhelming opposition to this move."

"There is still time for our new mayor to take action and to do the right thing by our community," he added. "Mayor [Bill] de Blasio's administration did not create this mess, but they certainly can clean it up."

The city did not immediately return a request for comment.

Residents had sued the city in late December, alleging that the city did not adequately study the potential impact of the probation office before signing a lease for the 35,000-square-foot space. They said they worried that their quiet, narrow block of John Street would be overwhelmed by convicted criminals.

The office is currently located at 346 Broadway, a building the city recently sold.

The Financial District residents' loss 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. Unlike the John Street building, however, the city had not yet signed a lease for 71 Thomas St. when the complaints began, and were not as far along in the relocation plans.

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.