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Halfway house proposed for Sheepshead Bay

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Prison officials must arrest a plan to put a halfway house near Sheepshead Bay schools, pols told this paper.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is looking for a contractor to run a 100-bed facility for convicted criminals transitioning back into society in a former Bragg Street synagogue, but local electeds say the plan borders on felonious because the proposed site is so close to schools and residential areas.

“To place one in this neighborhood, densely populated by one of the largest populations of vulnerable seniors, and virtually next door to so many of our neighborhood schools and parks is totally prepostero­us,” Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D–Sheepshead Bay) said.

Washington State-based halfway house operator Rever Corporation sent a letter to Borough President Adams early last month announcing that it had offered to run the site for the feds. The corporation is proposing to house 87 men and 13 women in a shuttered synagogue between Avenues V and W. The contract would last one year with an option for four years, the letter states. Rever would make “modest improvements” to the building and provide drug and alcohol rehabilitation and aid residents in finding permanent housing and jobs, according to the letter.

But the area is a poor choice, because there are no jobs up for grabs and subways are more than a mile away, according to a letter community board officials sent to the federal prison system.

“Bragg Street is an inappropriate location; it is not near any mass transit or employment opportunit­ies,” a letter signed by Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo states.

But there are three public schools — an elementary, intermediate, and high school — and several preschools and nurseries within a half-mile of the proposed halfway house, city maps show.

Prisoners may spend the last six months of a sentence in halfway houses as a way of easing back into the community after stints in the slammer.

Executives at Rever decided on the Bragg Street location because it didn’t strike them as a very nice area, and they expected little resistance from locals, according to spokesman Jeremy Seo.

“Basically we’re looking for a place that is not really a great area, but a place that needs to be developed,” he said. “If we’re moving into the community that has a really excellent businesses or a rich area, they’re going to be against it.”

Rever is willing to work with the community by sending a representative to convene with local leaders, Seo said.

“We can have somebody from our center take people on interviews or something like that,” he said.

Weinstein and Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park) only found out about the proposal from Adams’s office on Dec. 4, Maisel said. Since then, they sent letters to senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D–Sheepshead Bay) voicing their opposition, he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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