GOWANUS — A controversial parole office slated to open on Second Avenue next year will reduce crime and support local businesses, state officials said.
The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says the parole office — which will serve about 6,000 ex-prison inmates — will make Gowanus safer because it will be staffed by armed peace officers who have the power to arrest anyone they see committing a crime, DOCCS officials wrote in a recent letter to Community Board 6.
"The neighborhood will have an additional 120 armed peace officers in the area during the hours of 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., which will allow for the development of a crime prevention partnership with the community," the letter states.
The letter comes as neighbors and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams are pushing to get the parole office moved to another neighborhood. A group called No Gowanus Parole Office has gathered nearly 900 signatures to fight the new facility.
DOCCS also wrote that the facility — where about 400 ex-prisoners will check in with their parole officers Monday through Thursday — will be a boon to the local economy because its 151 employees could shop at neighborhood merchants. Parolees, however, aren't expected to linger in the area, according to the letter.
"It has been the Department's experience that a reporting station is an added benefit to the host communities," the letter states. "Contrary to some concerns, parolees do not loiter outside the site once their meetings with the Parole Officer have taken place."
The three-story 55,000-square-foot facility is now under construction at 15 Second Ave.
Neighbors say the parole office is too far from the subway and too close to schools and child care centers, meaning that ex-cons will be walking for blocks past children during their visits to the office. But DOCCS officials described the neighborhood as an industrial area full of factories and warehouses in their letter.
"I think they're being a little disingenuous," said Benjamin Solotaire, a Community Board 6 member who wasn't speaking on the board's behalf. "On the one hand they say they're putting it in a remote area where there aren't any businesses for the parolees to frequent, but they're saying their officers will frequent the businesses in the neighborhood. They always seem to be contradicting themselves.”
DOCCS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Community Board 6 has submitted a list of questions about the facility to DOCCS. The agency says it will respond to the questions by Oct. 30.