Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. addressed many issues during his State of the Borough speech on Thursday, February 21.
One specific item, which has been on the mind of many Bronxites, was Mayor de Blasio’s proposed Mott Haven jail for an NYPD tow pound at 320 Concord Avenue.
“We’re not accepting this,” the borough president said. “We will continue to make a case that Mott Haven is not the best location for a jail,” Diaz continued during his speech saying that a new jail belongs next to the Bronx Hall of Justice on East 161st Street.
“Criminal justice reform experts say jails should be located near courthouses for a myriad humane of reasons in the interest of justice,” Diaz said.
“We must continue to fight crime humanely and intelligently,” the borough president added.
The borough president also called the de Blasio administration’s priorities “entirely misguided,” going on to question how the city can spend millions to erect a Bronx jail but not allocate proper funding for schools within the borough.
Diaz also criticized a lack of community input from the city regarding the jail’s plan.
Specifically towards the Mott Haven community’s plan for the land now-to-be used for the jail.
In attendance at the State of the Borough was Arline Parks, the CEO of Diego Beekman Mutual Housing, whom orchestrated a plan to acquire the NYPD tow pound in efforts to convert the yard into additional affordable housing.
Diaz, Parks, and Congressman Jose E. Serrano had previously joined forces to fight the jail, forming a coalition called ‘Justice for the Bronx.’
“As Bronx Borough President Diaz and Congressman Serrano show leadership and courage on behalf of low-income people of color, other elected officials like Mayor de Blasio, Councilwoman Diana Ayala and Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson are betraying the residents of Mott Haven and the principles of social justice,” Parks said after the speech.
She went on to express her own sentiment that the jail belongs on East 161st Street, saying it shouldn’t be “in the middle of a residential community that is already struggling to clean up its crime-ridden streets.”
While praising Diaz and his efforts to eradicate the Mott Haven jail plan, Parks also “demands the Mayor and the City Council act to move the Bronx jail site immediately.”
Other major topics Diaz addressed during his presentation concerned the Bronx’s opioid epedemic, the conversion of the Sheridan Expressway into a street-level, crossable boulevard, the anticipated YMCA for Edenwald, along with cleaning up NYCHA housing along with much more.