The Kew Gardens Civic Association, representing Kew Gardens homeowners for over a century, and the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, representing apartment house dwellers for almost half a century, are united in their strong opposition to the plan offered by Elizabeth Crowley, presumably supported by other Queens City Council members, for situating one of the successors to Rikers Island in Kew Gardens.
The plan was never shared by Crowley with the residents of Kew Gardens and was apparently kept secret until its sudden release this week to the Mayor.
When the benign Queens House of Detention existed as part of our Civic Center, until fifteen years ago, it housed persons awaiting trial for very short stays; they were not likely to have many family visitors. And for those who came by car, there was plenty of parking nearby in the 900+ car Municipal Garage, now gone. The 307-car parking lot to open next year will be occupied by City and Court employees and by jurors; the streets of Kew Gardens will be scoured for non-existent parking spaces!
Kew Gardens' residents accepted the House of Detention as a holding facility; it posed no serious problem. When District Attorney Richard Brown suggested that converting the building to office space for his agency would save the City a lot of money it is now paying for rent elsewhere, it seemed to make sense. We respect Judge Brown and think he should be taken seriously.
After the brouhaha last Spring when the distribution of Rikers' prisoners was a headline topic, it was said that our Kew Gardens facility was not nearly big enough to accommodate enough prisoners from Queens; that the facility was outdated, that it would need to be demolished and rebuilt and that Kew Gardens could not provide enough prisoners to warrant a neighborhood prison, one of the goals voiced for the break-up of Rikers. What happened??
In just the two days since the Crowley letter was made available to our members we have received numerous replies from our members, all of whom are opposed to reopening the House of Detention. If community opinion is to mean anything, this project should be shelved.
----Dominick Pistone, President, Kew Gardens Civic Association
---Sylvia Hack, President, Kew Gardens Improvement Assn