Not in our back yard.
That’s the message from residents of Baychester who joined Councilman Andy King to protest the planned placement of a juvenile detention center on Bruner Avenue.
Dozens of residents gathered on the sidewalk in front of the project with King chanting “Save our community” and “shut it down.”
The planned Limited Secure Placement facility, run by the Administration of Children’s Services, will house adolescents who were arrested before they turned 16-years-old for committing an act that would have been a crime if they were an adult, according to information provided by ACS.
But the residential neighborhood is not zoned for a ‘I-3’ classified institutional facility, said King, and he implored the Department of Buildings to review the approval process.
The councilman said ACS is flouting the zoning laws and threatening the safety of the mostly residential community with a busy park nearby.
“Things can and will happen when you have a secured facility place in a residential neighborhood,” said King.
One homeowner on the block who has lived in the community for 58 years spoke out against the planned facility because of safety concerns.
“This is not the place,” Adrienne Smalls. “We don’t want this here.”
Fr. Richard Gorman, chairman of community board 12, asked the city agencies to consider how the plans would negatively affect the block.
“See the well-kept houses, the amount of love time and money that’s gone into making this a beautiful community,” he said.
The district leader of 83rd assembly district, Jamaal Bailey, spoke as a concerned resident and father.
“Not in a residential neighborhood,” he said about the facility. “We cannot put these children at risk.”
He said the area was over-concentrated with city-funded facilities and shelters.
“This neighborhood needs to stop being used as a dumping ground.”
King said his office will continue to press ACS and DOB to reverse their decisions to place the facility on the residential block.
The planned facility is part of the state’s Close to Home initiative, which allows young people adjudicated in family court to be placed in or near New York City under the care of the ACS, where they will receive educational credits toward graduation in NYC Department of Education schools, reside close to their communities enabling their families to be part of the rehabilitation process, and benefit from aftercare services that are tailored to the strengths and needs of the young people and their families, according to ACS.
The programs have a 1 to 3 staffing ratio, and LSP facilities will be locked and will have multiple safety and security measures both to protect residents and to ensure the safety of the surrounding community, ACS notes.
“ACS’ goal for this, as well as all other Limited Secure Placement facilities, is to provide a safe, stable, and close-knit residential environment for young people to receive residential rehabilitation services while in our care, while also ensuring the safety of residents and the surrounding community,” A statement from the agency read. “We will continue outreach to community leaders and elected officials to ensure that their questions or concerns are addressed.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings said the development is “as-of-right.”
“The plans for the project at this location were reviewed and determined to be in compliance with the NYC Constructions Codes and the Zoning Resolution.
“The Department will continue to work with the community in regards to any concerns related to code compliance or safety issues at this site,” the spokesperson promised.