As NYC’s new City Council Land Committee chair, Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. has vowed to block Mayor de Blasio’s plan to plop a new jail in Mott Haven as part of closing down Rikers Island.
Back in February, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office foolishly announced that a new jail was coming to 320 Concord Avenue in Mott Haven which is currently being used by the NYPD as a tow pound and was once the site of the old historic Lincoln Hospital.
The announcement was made without consulting residents or local elected officials including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, Congressman Jose E Serrano, NYS Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo or any other.
It was immediately met with resistance with a harsh open letter to the mayor and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson from the Diego Beekman community followed by a statement by South Bronx Unite and a Town Hall emergency meeting where hundreds of residents came out to provide testimony against this plan.
In an article in today’s New York Times it states:
Absent state intervention, the jails plan has to go through the City Council’s Land Use Committee, and its chairman, Rafael Salamanca Jr., said he would stop it because it would put three jails within two miles of each other in the South Bronx.
Mr. Salamanca, whose district borders the one where the new jail will be built, said the city needed to make closing the Vernon C. Bain Center, a medium-security barge on the shore of Hunts Point, and the Horizon Juvenile Center in Mott Haven part of its plan.
“Without something in writing, it’s a non-starter,” he said. “My community in the South Bronx has done more than its fair share.”
Some have suggested that the Yankee Stadium parking lots which are barely used and went bankrupt be torn down and place the jail there or place it directly behind the Bronx County Hall of Justice.
Councilwoman Diana Ayala, who represents Council District 8 where the location for the proposed jail sits tells the New York Times that project could provide leverage for residents to demand more investments in the area with infrastructure and programs.
So what does this mean? Will we get a new jail?
We’ll probably end up getting a new jail but it won’t happen without the city meeting the demands of the community. Will it happen at this location? As it stands, it will not if Councilman Salamanca follows through and blocks it.
One thing is for sure is that we are over-saturated and overburdened and have done more than our fair share for the borough and the city.
It’s time that we get what we want and put our community first above all.