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Community Board Votes Down City’s Kew Gardens Jail Plan

Renderings for the proposed Kew Gardens jail facility at 126-02 82nd Ave. (Perkins Eastman via Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice)

March 14, 2019 By Jon Cronin

Community Board 9 is calling on the City to stop the public planning process of the proposed 1,600 inmate jail in Kew Gardens before “irreparable harm” is done.

At the March 12 Community Board 9 meeting, the board voted unanimously in support of a resolution to stop the City’s planning process for the 1.9 million square foot, 30 story jail that is planned to go up next to the dormant Queens Detention Center.

The resolution is non-binding, and is merely a recommendation.

The planning process, known as the Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), is slated to begin on March. 25 and is needed before the project can move forward. The land needs to be re-zoned in order for a building of such scale to go up and for the street to be de-mapped that runs between borough hall and the municipal parking lot.

The board asked that it be stopped before the seven-month ULURP process begins.

In the resolution, the board said that there has been no community input in forming the plan and that it “will quite simply overwhelm and destroy the small historic residential neighborhood of Kew Gardens, and also adversely affect the adjacent community of Briarwood.”

The resolution also accuses the City of providing mistruths about the level of community engagement, and its claims that meetings were held.

Plans for the Kew Gardens jail (City Planning Commission)

“Such meetings never took place, were never advertised, never sent to the Community Board nor to any of the existing civic groups in Kew Gardens nor to the other affected community, Briarwood.”

The resolution comes just a few days after Borough President Melinda Katz called on the mayor to restart the development process, citing a lack of community input.

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, however, has yet to change her pro-stance on the proposal.

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11 Comments

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Dez Aster

At the latest road show City employees answered that Rikers is intended to be converted into an extension for La Guardia Airport (and plans show a luxury conference center too.) This is the real reason Rikers must closed AND moved. The City still has ZERO details about the community programs that were the primary purpose for dumping these jails into residential neighborhoods. No study or plans at all for the traffic and transportation nightmare which is left for the DOT after millions are spent on these plans that you see. Zero details about how the surrounding areas will be modified to support such a huge footprint. The plan is to overwhelm residents with a general land and then slightly scale back as a compromise so a 30 story building might only be 24 – and still be the largest in the area and dwarf the surrounding neighborhoods. The plan is clear – spend millions, approve a catastrophic idea and justify how much has already been spent and let the local neighborhoods figure out how to cope with the nightmare. And Bill will have stepped over the NYC Mayor’s office up the ladder to his next political ambition and leave this mess for someone else.

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Evan F. Boccardi

I don’t mind if the building is large, but it needs to look nice, and not a prison, but something we actually need: Affordable housing!

The existing building needs to be converted into affordable housing for low and middle-income citizens, with a priority for those who grew up in this part of Queens being displaced by high rents. Priority should also be for Seniors, Veterans, and the Disabled who are particularly affected by high rents.

I own my place, so I am lucky, but I constantly see long-time residents who call Queens home being forced out, one by one! We need to make sure our family members, friends and neighbors can afford to still call Kew Gardens home!

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dori s kohlberg

The construction of 60 story jail will bring into the Kew Gardens neighborhood are hundreds of Correction Officers and necessary staff. This will cause a parking disaster, you can’t park now – think of the future. The supporting politicians have there private spaces and don’t care.

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Tom

If the city doesn’t listen to local Community Boards about unwanted bike lanes, unwanted high-rise developments, or unwanted homeless shelters, why should this unwanted jail be any different?

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Ryuji Mukae

In addition to a hotel which has surreptitiously been turned into a homeless shelter without any previous knowledge on the part of the Kew Gardens community, now the City is forcing upon the community a humongous prison (1600 beds!!!) housing those inmates from Rikers Island, who are not known for their civil behavior. Is this how American democracy works?

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Enough Already

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.

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Toni Mason

How about bringing these area back to their original glory! Pthe few parts of Queens that are still relatively safe.

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Nicholas Jackson

And this is the irony. De Blasio wants to put a jail into safe neighborhoods. He’s claiming that 30% are there just because they are too poor. Even assuming that inflated number, it means housing over 1,000 hard criminals visited daily by their fellow gang members. It’s all about their agenda for real estate and it doesn’t matter if neighborhoods are decimated.

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Esther

They have been fighting this proposal for at least a year. Now Ms Katz gets involved? What took her so long. I also wonder why the counsil woman has a pro-stance !?

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Former FHiller

Because she doesn’t actually do work. Yet no one notices and she still gets re-elected.

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FH11375

You are absolutely right. Outside of a parade or photo-op Koslowitz and company do not emerge from their caves yet some how get re-elected. What a joke.

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