You are reading

Borough President Blasts Mayor for Not Treating Residents as ‘Partners’ in Plan to Build Kew Gardens Jail

(Image: Office of the Mayor)

March 13, 2019 By Jon Cronin

The Queens and Bronx Borough Presidents penned a joint letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio last week blasting him for failing to solicit community input as he moves forward with his plan to develop borough-based jails—including a large facility in Kew Gardens.

The two borough presidents stated that they are upset that the mayor has not reached out to the communities where the borough-based jails are expected to be developed. The mayor’s plan is to develop these jails so the city can shut down Rikers Island.

“As you know, we have been—and continue to be—strong proponents of closing Rikers Island, and share with you the goal of reforming and modernizing our city’s jail system,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz wrote.

“The irony, however, of unveiling a citywide plan for ‘modern community-based jails’ in the absence of community input is not lost on the boroughs,” the letter reads.

The plan involves building a 1.9 million square foot center, which could be as high as 30 stories, in the Queens Borough Hall parking lot next to the Queens County Criminal Court. The facility would also have an infirmary that would serve all the inmates in the jail system.

The plan also calls for the development of jails in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

A large number of Kew Gardens residents are adamantly opposed to the plan. Civic leaders knew nothing of the plan until de Blasio announced it at a press conference on Aug. 15.

“The backlash to the current plan is what happens when affected communities are not treated as partners in reform,” the letter says. “Relocating the jail system currently housed on Rikers Island necessitates careful planning and community engagement every step of the way.”

The sites where the new jails are to go up have to be rezoned and City Planning is about to start process. The borough presidents are calling on the mayor to slow down.

“We urge your administration to restart the process in order to best implement this vitally important proposal,” the letter reads.

Plans for the Kew Gardens jail (City Planning Commission)

Katz and Diaz added that since the plan to close Rikers Island has a 2027 deadline, it is feasible to restart it now.

Katz did not say whether or not she supports a jail going up at the Kew Gardens site and just focused on the lack of community feedback. Her rivals in the Queens District Attorney’s race have been more forthcoming. For instance, Rory Lancman has expressly said that Rikers should be closed and a facility should go up in Kew Gardens.

The mayor’s office refutes the claims made by the borough presidents, arguing that it has been working with the respective communities.

“We’re working with local residents every day…,” said Raul A. Contreras, a spokesman for the mayor’s office. “We continue to respond to the concerns of local residents, but we won’t delay our mission to close Rikers and improve conditions for those detained and for their families supporting their rehabilitation.”

In order to close Rikers, the city plans on reducing the city inmate population from about 8,000 to around 5,000. It would then house the inmates in borough-based facilities.

Borough Based Jails by Queens Post on Scribd

email the author: [email protected]

4 Comments

Click for Comments 
VoteNYC

Between the homeless situation which is damn near cancerous in terms of unstoppable growth and no cure in sight and these proposals for “prisons” and all the other crime that is occurring in areas where crime was virtually non-existent for decades; this may be the most prudent thing to do at this juncture despite our absent-minded mayor believing otherwise yet you will find that there are no planned shelters or prisons anywhere near the properties he and his family owns. Quite convenient that he has all these ideas and plans but is a NIMBY citizen.

Reply
Sliwa's baby batter

Katz did not say whether or not she supports a jail going up at the Kew Gardens site and just focused on the lack of community feedback.

Congrats Katz, what a profile in courage. SMH

19
Reply
Ernesto

Katz came to the party late as she realized too many people now oppose this jail and she needs the votes to become DA. True politician that she is. Phony career politician.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force investigating vandalism at Forest Hills church that has been targeted in the past

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a case of criminal mischief at a Forest Hills house of worship in which a vandal threw a rock to intentionally damage its glass front door, according to authorities.

Police say that just before 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, police from the 112th Precinct were called to Grace Lutheran Church, located at 103-15 Union Tpke., after a man threw a rock and damaged the church’s front door.

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.