Land review begins to make Rikers Island public by 2026

A jail on Rikers Island in 2018. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

City officials began taking steps Monday for Rikers Island to become a public space by 2026 — synchronizing with the Mayor’s borough based jail plan that would leave the island vacant in the same year.

A uniform land use review procedure was filed on Dec. 2 that would reclassify the Bronx island as a public space, rather than a jail facility, according to a statement from City Hall.

The ULURP at hand will “officially prohibit the incarceration of individuals there after Dec. 31, 2026,” though it doesn’t address what the future holds for Rikers Island.

“The proposed mapping action does not lead to any new development or construction on its own,” that statement noted, adding that any future plans – such as housing development, green energy facilities or the prospect of expanding LaGuardia Airport —will require a new planning and public review process, including a separate approval for and environmental review.

The announcement came after the city began the procedure of closing facilities on Rikers Island along with the Brooklyn Detention Center in preparation for the new and upcoming jail plan.

“We are moving away from the failed policies of mass incarceration and showing the world that Rikers days are numbered,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, adding that the remapping of Rikers  “shows our deep commitment to closing” all of the jails there.

De Blasio reiterated Johnson’s sentiment: “We’re charting a new course forward for the island and the people of New York City.”

The mayor also said that the city will do everything it its power to end mass incarceration.

Alex Mitchell