The community boards have voted and the borough presidents have weighed in. The city’s plan to close Rikers Island jails by 2026 — by building four new borough-based facilities via an unprecedented land-use measure — now moves to a fall vote in front of the City Council.
The city’s plan calls for building a new 1,150-bed jail in every borough except Staten Island. In order to do this, the proposal must go through a process called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (or ULURP), which determines the size and use of property beyond what’s permitted by existing regulations.
This is far from a traditional land-use situation. For the first time, the city has packaged four different sites into a single ULURP application, rather than expose each plan to individual review.
Local community boards and borough presidents are the first to weigh in, though their votes are purely advisory. Now that they have, the decision moves to the City Council, whose vote is legally binding.
The stances of the four City Council members who represent the neighborhoods in question are particularly important, because the council traditionally votes in lockstep with the local representatives on ULURP applications.
Kew Gardens, QueensCapacity: 1,150 beds
Height: 270 feet tall
Total space: 1.258 million square feet, including a 676-space municipal parking lot
Of note: The Queens jail would house all women detained in New York City, as well as several hundred men.
Councilmember: Councilmember Karen Koslowitz supports the city’s plan, but her spokesperson said she is working with the Mayor’s Office to reduce the overall size.
Borough president: Queens Borough President Melinda Katz formally recommended disapproval in June. “A 1,500 person jail anywhere in Queens is unacceptable,” Katz said. She wants more community engagement and thinks the city can reduce its total jail population to 3,000 by 2026, enabling the city to construct a smaller community jail. (The city currently estimates a jail population of 4,000 by 2026).
Community board: Queens Community Board 9 unanimously voted in favor of a resolution rejecting the plan.
Anyone would like to wager that "affordable housing" will be included in that building?