Just hours after the Commission of Correction put out a report that said the state might intervene in the shutdown of Rikers if the city doesn’t improve the situation at the island prison, the city is now offering more concrete steps about the planned shutdown.
In addition to expanding or renovating three existing facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, respectively, the de Blasio administration has now confirmed that it is planning to build a fourth prison at 320 Concord Avenue, in the Bronx.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. wasn’t too pleased with the city’s selection of a site in the Bronx.
“Any new site for a jail in this borough must be thoroughly vetted, and the people of The Bronx must have a meaningful say in the selection of any future site, be it the one that has been proposed in Mott Haven or other appropriate sites that could host a new jail,” said Diaz Jr. as part of a lengthy statement on the matter. “Presenting the selection of this site as a fait accompli undermines the entire process, and has the potential to derail necessary criminal justice reform.”
The city though estimates that together these expanded and new facilities will have space to hold 5,000 inmates, a significant increase from the existing capacity, which is about 2,300. The city will jointly launch the uniform land use review procedure (ULURP) on all four sites, and conduct environmental reviews prior to that process getting underway.
The announcement comes after the mayor’s office and the City Council reached an agreement on the matter.
“This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a statement. “In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that’s smaller, safer and fairer.”
As part of the ULURP, there will be multiple public meetings to discuss the impact of these new facilities. As is always the case, the local community boards, borough presidents’ offices, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council will all get to weigh in on the specifics of the development.
Last month, the city hired Perkins Eastman to create a master plan for this development, and the firm is now working to make that happen. The city is hopeful for the ULURP to get underway by the end of the year, and for the formal design process to begin the following summer.