Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not in whose backyard?

So on the way back from the gym I am besieged by a group plastering store windows, residential doors, and hands of passersby with fliers to "Stop the Jail." Maybe because I'm cranky and tired and sweaty but my initial reaction is, why? Don't they have something better to do with their time and efforts and funds (judging by the pretty glossy posters, they have some)?

The jail has always been in the neighborhood. It's been not used to capacity of late, (only for holding prisoners from Rikers overnight for morning court dates in the court houses down the block), but it's always been there, amid rumors of it being brought back into full functionality or of it being sold. (A fun idea bantered around was that of the city renting the lower floors to retailers, so you could shop at The Gap right underneath floors of the incarcerated!)

But they keep building luxury high rise apartment buildings in the blocks immediately adjacent, no doubt encouraging people to hope that the jail eventually goes away. But you know what? It was there first. It was always there. Take off your blinders.

Is it a safety issue? Are they concerned that escaped prisoners will suddenly become common in the neighborhood? Because you know, those same people are currently being bussed in and out of the courthouses on a regular basis. Should we close down the courthouses because Madison and her little fourth grade class might get frightened by the sight of a white and blue police bus with iron mesh windows?

I don't know. Maybe I should be more concerned about this, especially as I am someone who now owns property that could feel the impact of a changing neighborhood. But this just makes me feel like I'm looking at the dark side, the NIMBY side of gentrification.


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