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Protest Against Kew Gardens Jail to Take Place Saturday

Kew Gardens Facility (Source: City, March 22 Plan)

April 8, 2019 By Meghan Sackman

Kew Gardens and Forest Hills residents will be rallying this Saturday to protest the city’s plan to develop the Queens Detention Complex into a 27-story “mega-jail,” as part of the Mayor’s goal to replace Rikers Island with four borough based jails.

The protest, organized by Nancy and Eric Horn, members of the grassroots group No Kew Gardens, will take place on April 13 at 1 p.m. outside Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd.

The protest was organized in response to the NYC City Planning Commission certifying the mayor’s ULURP application, moving the project to build the jails into the seven-month public review process. The four jail sites all need to be rezoned in order for them to be built, requiring public review.

The ULURP application calls for four community-based jails–including one in Kew Gardens–each housing 1,437 inmates.

The city’s latest plan for the Kew Gardens jail involves building a 1.3 million square foot center, which would be 27 stories high, over the Queens Borough Hall parking lot and where the dormant Queens Detention Complex is located.

The Kew Gardens facility would also have an infirmary that would serve all the inmates in the jail system and include space for community facilities and retail use, like the three other jails.

A large number of Kew Gardens residents oppose the plan, which civic leaders say they were not informed of until de Blasio announced it at a press conference on Aug. 15. The mayor aims to shut down Rikers Island, reduce the prison population down from 8,000 to 5,000 and house the inmates in the four community-based jails–including Kew Gardens.

Eric Horn, an organizer, is critical of the city’s decision to build the jail in a residential neighborhood. He said that the mayor didn’t consult the community prior to the announcement; didn’t look at any other potential sites in Queens for a jail; and questions the city’s ability to reduce the prison population to a level where there are enough prison cells.

“The city chose to place the jail in a residential neighborhood with three schools that will be in very close proximity to this new building,” Horn said.

Horn suggested a more spacious and industrial location such as Willets Point. Horn said the city could have chosen a place like this but didn’t because it would have had to deal with private property owners instead of using land it already owns.

“They are going for the most expedient solution but not the best thing for the community or even the prisoners,” Horn said.

Horn also pointed out that the “skyscraper prison” will actually cast a shadow over many residents’ homes, and noted that residents will also be disturbed by ambulances coming in and out of the planned infirmary.

Horn also said the plan to get the prison population from 8,000 to 5,000–in order to house the inmates– is a stretch, and that it will likely result in the need for even more locally based jails.

“Crime is going down now, but that doesn’t mean the trajectory won’t change,” Horn said  “There’s a lot of assumptions in place for this to actually work.”

Horn’s group has invited members of Community Board 6 to the rally, as well as Congress Member Grace Meng and Borough President Melinda Katz.

The protestors are not inviting Council Member Karen Koslowitz since she has not rejected the plan outright. Koslowitz has said that she wants a seat at the table when it comes to making plan modifications, which she said she would forfeit by being an outspoken critic.

“We don’t think the councilmember has our best interest at heart,” Horn said.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

The people who deserve to be in jail for life without parole, for creating and aggressively pushing for closing Rikers instead of cleaning and fixing what is already there are:
Bill de Blasio
Melissa Mark Viverito
Corey Johnson

And those who should be joining them behind bars for at least 20 years, for supporting the insane plan and not standing up for their constituents are:
Melinda Katz
Karen Koslowitz
Rory Lancman

This is what democracy looks like. Not.


I am curious if De Blasio is planning to port Rikers inmates to a middle class Brooklyn neighborhood? If so, do they know about this? And if not, why should his own borough be exempt?

Patricia Bertagnolli

I shall definitely attend the rally rain or shine as will many residents of Forest Hills South. Power of the people. We need to impress upon the City that a mega jail in our neighborhood is is an abomination. A mega jail is not a community or neighborhood jail. This will negatively alter not only the entire character of the neighborhood but impact the quality of life that we cherish and have a right to keep safe.

Forest Hills Dude

I wonder how this will impact real estate prices in FH/KG if the jail is built. I just bought a one bedroom apartment in FH last year. I grew up in FH and have always loved how safe this neighborhood is. Well that won’t be the case soon. F&*k De Blasio


I walk through Forest Hills after midnight, no problem. The only dangerous thing is De Blasio.

Mrs. Grenfell

Hello neighbors. The things we must deal with. Life is not hard enough right?! This is absurd! I’ve actually called/emailed and complained so many times to our political leaders and all I get is a “Thank you for reaching out to us” reply in my email.
As a heavy tax payer in KG, it is extremely upsetting to have a jail in our neighborhood. What I would like to see is for these “Fat Cats” to keep the PRISONERS in Rikers where they belong & FAR away from our residential communities & children.
Also, the parking is ridiculous on the street as it is, driveways are constantly being blocked. In addition, we are also dealing with a lot of outsiders littering from their parkedcars (Of which I go on out our streets & sidewalks with a broom to clean-just to keep our community looking decent). A passerby even told me not to clean it as it is the Sanitation Department’s responsibility.I refuse to leave our sidewalks & streets looking dirty.I have also brought the garbage problem to the DSNY’s attention- of which I had no help or luck.
My point is that I VALUE, Love and care for my neighborhood- my home, your home, OUR home. I guess I had a lot to say about this, more than I thought-lol. I will be there head strong to support our beautiful community. Thank you for your time.


They need to put this jail in Far Rockaway or an underdeveloped section of Jamaica. Instead, the Communist Bill Diblaso probably has a grandiose social experiment in which he wants to reverse gentrify wealthy neighborhoods with predominantly minority prisoners, drug addicts and homeless people. Why doesn’t Diblasio offer up his own neighborhood? Impeach Diblasio


Far Rockaway already has it share of nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and a proposed men’s homeless shelter. Maybe DeBlasio should build a jail by Gracie Mansion.


Surely, the city could acquire farmland in upstate, which would give inmates room to exercise outdoors, instead of being cooped up. Also, upstate is depressed right now, and would appreciate the jobs.

Dee Jay

Why Jamaica or Far Rockway? We are already overwhelmed with low income housing and homeless shelters, not to mention lack of transportation to handle the massive influx of people. You don’t want it in your backyard and neither do we!


Let’s turn out for this march and protest. Forecast says it will a warm day. Save our Kew Gardens and Forest Hills neighborhood. I was at Community Board 9’s meeting tonight. We can do this if we unite.

Sam Rao

Good luck in your fight. My neighborhood (East Elmhurst) is being inundated with homeless shelters without regard for the community. My neighborhood also accommodates Rikers Island and LaGuardia airport.


A seat at the table??? Karen will not be included in the next volume of Profiles in Courage.

Patricia Bertagnolli

This is outrageous. A community jail that is really a mega jail? Rezoning to build a 27 story facility for over 1400 people and all the traffic and problems that would bring to a neighborhood? How will the problems related to visitors and congestion be handled? The area is already overburdened with traffic (and not only during rush hour). Disrupting a neighborhood negatively without regard for the residents who live in that neighborhood and call it home. Seems that normal, law-abiding residents have no importance. Why not update the original Queens Detention Center to house a normal number of people (500). Would save a lot of money instead of spending money on a mega jail. Or rebuild on Riker’s Island instead of developing it into an upscale community for the wealthy. How about Willet’s Point? Don’t ruin this neighborhood.

Kew Gardns resident

Koslowitz has decided she wants her legacy to be the Karen Koslowitz Jail Complex. I can’t imagine a single Kew Gardens resident being in favor of this plan. I dont believe this plan has anything to do with social justice. It may have to do with real estate and the political ambitions of our mayor.

That Guy

KK wants a seat at the table. Why so you can help pick out the curtains for the jail? What a dope.

But hey the community voted overwhelmingly for this clown, and for our dopey mayor. So a jail is what you get for being a loyal sheep.


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