Bronx Community Board 1 voted unanimously on Thursday against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build a jail at the site of an NYPD tow impound lot in Mott Haven.
The jail, one of four borough-based facilities proposed to replace Rikers Island and three other jails, has been met with resistance from the community and its leaders since it was introduced last year. De Blasio’s plan also includes smaller jails to be built in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
“Community Board 1 has reiterated the message that so many of us have made from the day the administration announced its plan: Mott Haven is the wrong site for a new jail,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement after the vote. “Rikers Island must be closed, but the city cannot ignore community input and steamroll neighborhoods through the land-use process in order to do so.”
A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said they are grateful to all the community members who attended the vote Thursday evening.
"It is clear that the Bronx community shares our fundamental goal to close Rikers, and we will continue to take their input seriously as we work together to build a smaller, safer, fairer justice system," the spokeswoman said.
Opponents of the plan have said they would rather see a mixed-income housing development built on the lot, and Diaz has proposed an alternative jail site located next to the Bronx Hall of Justice that he said is “much more appropriate.”
“The city has proposed to reconstruct existing facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn to make their neighborhood jail plan work. There is no reason they cannot follow the same development path and repurpose the outmoded Family Court site and surrounding vacant space to build a jail in the Bronx,” Diaz added.
The community board’s vote is the first of several steps in the land use approval process for the jail to be built. Diaz will next weigh in on the project, but both the community board and borough president play advisory roles; regardless of their votes the proposal moves on to the City Planning Commission. If the commission approves the proposal, it will go to the City Council for a final vote.