City Council members griped Thursday that they’re flying blind as they consider Mayor de Blasio’s plan to replace Rikers Island — which besides costing $8.7 billion would also mark a big change in the city’s approach to criminal justice.
De Blasio administration officials are offering too little information about when and how inmates would be moved from Rikers to the four new jails, in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, said City Councilman Keith Powers (D-Manhattan), who leads the council’s Criminal Justice Committee.
“There are communities here obviously concerned about what the plans are in their district," Powers said before more than 300 people at the first City Council hearing on de Blasio’s plan.
“I think it’s a little unfair for us not to have information about what phasing will be like and what the plan will look like .... We’re here at a land use hearing to talk about this and we don’t have clarity on which of these districts will get the facilities in what order.”
“I think it’s a little unfair for us not to have information about what phasing will be like and what the plan will look like,” said Powers.
Another council member wondered why the plan’s estimated $8.7 billion cost was staying level even though de Blasio administration officials have lowered the new jails’ estimated population from 6,000 to 4,000.
“Now that the population has been reduced to 4,000, what is the updated estimated cost of construction? Is there any particular reason why that figure remains the same (now) that the population has decreased?" asked Council member Adrienne Adams (D-Brooklyn), chair of the Landmarks, Public Sitting, and Maritime Uses subcommittee
Jamie Torres-Springer, first deputy commissioner of city Department of Design and Construction, had no answer to Adams’ question. “The estimate that informed that budget is based on the place that we’re at,” TorresSpringer said, explaining that the official design has not yet been conceptualized.
As with the tower jails building process, city council is also taking a design-build approach to voting on it.