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NYC Council urged to hold more public hearings on de Blasio’s plan to close and replace Rikers with smaller jails


The City Council should hold more hearings on Mayor de Blasio’s controversial plan to close and replace Rikers Island, community and advocacy groups say.

They called on Council Speaker Corey Johnson to hold at least three more public forums because the plan to build four smaller jails was bundled into one proposal that the city is pushing through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

“The minimum number of public forums that are legally mandated under this bundled 4 sites in one ULURP process is not enough,” the groups wrote to Johnson on Sept. 14. “New Yorkers need more opportunities to discuss their concerns and vet this $8.7+ billion jails plan.”

A Council subcommittee held a hearing without voting on Sept. 5.

But the groups told Johnson there wasn’t enough time or space to fully vet the plans at that hearing, held in City Council Chambers on the first day of school.

“Over 300+ people waited over 4 to 8 hours to enter and speak,” they wrote to Johnson. “Many seniors and concerned parents waiting to speak were deterred due to the arduous wait. Constituents are relying on lawmakers such as yourself to step in and demand greater transparency and due process.”

They want at least three more hearings held by the Council’s Committee on Health, the Committee on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Public Safety to address lingering questions about the timeline of construction and how that will affect “the health and safety of the public, especially senior citizens and children, living near the jail sites.”

The City Planning Commission approved construction of the four jails on Sept. 3, but the full Council must OK the plans before they can move forward.

“We are still reviewing online testimony, holding meetings with stakeholders and reviewing testimony from hearing," Johnson spokeswoman Jennifer Fermino said. “At this point, we are focused on reviewing the feedback we have.”