Letter: Don't Add Inmates to White Street Jail

To the Editor:

With the proposed schedule for closing of Rikers Island jail and subsequent building of city jails to be located in each borough, Mayor de Blasio has announced plans to refit 125 White Street Manhattan Detention Center and the adjacent old "Tombs."

My concerns are the addition of prisoners in these facilities would cause great burden on Chinatown, Soho, Tribeca and BPC residential neighborhoods. According to Borough President Gale Brewer, the current capacity of the Manhattan Detention Center—historically known as the “Tombs”—is only 900, but the estimates are that we will need capacity for 1500 people once the Rikers population is reduced as scheduled.

Not only will this increase pedestrian traffic but vehicular traffic as well; there will be hundreds of corrections, maintenance, kitchen and other support staff who would normally drive to work. Chinatown and surrounding areas are already suffering from a critical shortage of curbside parking and these added vehicles will take away what spaces the community fought long and hard for.

On weekends, visitors to the jail will further congest tragic along our streets already having to deal with the Manhattan Bridge, Holland Tunnel and Brooklyn Bridge. While many will use the available subways close by, not everyone will, especially if they are coming from areas where rapid transit is sparse or sporadic on weekends.

I always err on the side of caution and think building this jail in Chinatown may adversely affect crime in our neighborhood; while the majority of jail visitors are family members there is a percentage visiting who may be of questionable character.

Chinatown and its adjoining neighborhoods will need to unite and form a cohesive coalition to oppose this proposed jail.

Karlin Chan

Senior Director, Chinese Freemasons