The board recently sent a letter to Speaker Corey Johnson and members of the City Council urging them to vote against the borough-based jails proposal, citing violations of the New York City Charter.
The City Planning Commission voted in favor of the proposal for the four facilities on September 4.
Proponents of the plan to replace Rikers Island with four new facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx cite having detainees closer to family and courts, changing the culture within the Department of Corrections, and making the criminal system more humane overall as benefits
The City Council held a public hearing on the proposal on September 5 and has 50 days to vote on the plan. If approved, the new jails will cost approximately $11 billion.
Community members in Kew Gardens and Briarwood argue the proposed jail at 126-02 82nd Avenue near Borough Hall is unnecessary, out-of-context and potentially illegal.
In the letter, the board argued that the proposal specifically violates sections of the City Charter.
“In brief, this ULURP application contains no plan, no design, no budget and no program details, all of which are specifically required by the New York City Charter for a capital budget project,” read the letter. “We believe that no comparable private applicant, even one using only private funds, would have had such a vague application certified to enter the ULURP process.”
Opponents say they first heard of the proposed jail was on August 15, 2018, when Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a press conference announcing a proposed $7.4 million contract with architecture and design firm Perkins Eastman.
In January 2018, Perkins Eastman was awarded a contract to seek out potential jail sites and prepare designs.
The “New York City Rikers Island Jail Complex Replacement Act,” which was passed into law as part of the state legislature’s 2018 budget, authorized “Design-Build” for the project, which allows close collaboration between designers and builders to save money and time.
The board argued in its letter that the process has been distorted in this ULURP application.
“Design-Build is not permission to bypass Charter requirements or used as an excuse for having no program, no design, no budget, and no definite plan,” the board argued.