Monday, the Department of City Planning is expected to formally kick off the land-use review process for building four new borough jails to replace Rikers Island. So excited are card-carrying progressives about shuttering the miserable, out-of-the-way complex, they’ve made a host of unforced errors that are rapidly piling up.
First, what happened to Mayor de Blasio’s initial idea that each borough would house its own pretrial prisoners to keep them close to home and courts? Staten Island got off scot-free.
The Bronx, meanwhile, gets hurt due to a plan de Blasio glommed onto with little to no community consultation (oh, that). Unlike Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn jails, whose proximity to courthouses make for easy transport of defendants, lawyers and family, 320 Concord Ave. in Mott Haven, currently a NYPD tow pound, sits in a residential area fully two miles from the Bronx justice center.
Worse, the jail would swallow up a site long-promised for hundreds of affordable units for the Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association. Diego Beekman has a proven track record restoring the struggling area; residents have clawed back against what was rampant drug and gang activity.
Dropping into this neighborhood a 26-story jail risks introducing a destabilizing force at the worst time.
So why was it picked last summer, when there were far better options? Probably because back then, it seemed to present the path of least political resistance.