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Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. urges the city to pause its plans for new jails

He says the city has not seriously considered community feedback on the proposals. 

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz rallied with those

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz rallied with those protesting plans for a jail in Mott Haven. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined constituents and activists on the steps of City Hall Sunday and urged the mayor to abandon plans to construct a jail in Mott Haven.

Diaz said Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of City Planning should not start the formal review process for the facility and its counterparts in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens because officials did not seriously consider community feedback. The borough president said de Blasio was “weaponizing” that process, called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, and forcing jails on communities.

“No one who made the decision for us in the Bronx, lives in the borough of the Bronx,” Diaz said.

Last year, the mayor unveiled a 10-year plan to close Rikers Island and replace it with jails located in four of the five boroughs. Under this vision, the Bronx jail is the only project that would not emerge from a redeveloped property. Instead, the borough’s jail is slated to be built from scratch on a NYPD tow impound site in Mott Haven.

If the City Planning Commission certifies the ULURP application Monday, the proposal would be sent to community boards, which must hold a public hearing on the jails within 60 days. The plan would then be weighed by the borough presidents’ offices and sent to the City Planning Commission for review.

The jails would ultimately need approval from the City Council.

Diaz said the Mott Haven location at Concord Avenue and East 141st Street was problematic and would not bring the jail closer to the courthouse, as the mayor said he was attempting to do. The jail would be almost two miles away from Bronx Criminal Court and close to residential homes, including the Diego Beekman apartments.

Arline Parks, the CEO of the Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association, said the city has refused to consider the neighborhood’s previous ideas for the NYPD lot and its concerns about placing a jail there.

“Government has no business in investing in the destruction of communities,” Parks said.

Raul Contreras, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said City Hall is paying attention to locals’ feedback.

“We continue to respond to the concerns of local residents, but we won’t delay our mission to close Rikers and improve conditions for those detained and for their families supporting their rehabilitation,” Contreras said in a statement.

Correction: An earlier version of this story should have noted that the City Planning Commission certifies ULURP applications.

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