Mott Haven releases anti-jail video

Elevated view of the Mott Haven tow pound.
Schneps Community News Group/ Alex Mitchell

Diego Beekman, a Mott Haven affordable housing developer and its CEO Arline Parks have set their sights on exposing the culprits that are responsible for ramming the jail construction proposal for 320 Concord Avenue down the community’s throat.

They have released a 47-second video targeted at Mayor de Blasio and Councilwoman Diana Ayala, the two primary advocates of the jail plan.

Produced by community advocates Parks, Walter Nash and Maria Ortiz, the video is part of a campaign to educate and organize Bronx residents against the jail. Other videos will be released as the city moves forward with its plan.

The campaign will also target state and city elected officials including Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, whose successful efforts to block the jail from going near the courthouse, led to the current site being selected.

“Mayor de Blasio, Council Member Ayala: if you really want to do what’s safe and fair, put the jail where it belongs, next to the courthouse,” Park says in the video.

“A jail in Mott Haven will move us backwards, not forwards,” Nash states in the piece airing on various media platforms such as Facebook. “It’s the height of hypocrisy to say you’re for a ‘fairer’ New York and fighting inequality, and then drop a 26-story jail in a lower-income community of color. Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Ayala clearly do not care about the people of Mott Haven, who have been working for years to clean up their own streets. The jail must go next to the courthouse.”

Before the adminsitration decided on Mott Haven, a site next to the Bronx Hall of Justice was also being considered.

The inspiration to release the opposition ad a year after the site was first announced is because the uniform land use review process (ULURP) for all the borough facilities will be heard in March.

For now, Parks and Diego Beekman are aiming to have the Bronx part of the plan given a separate ULURP hearing.

The Mott Haven community and South Bronx Coalition also created an online petition at titled “Stop Mayor de Blasio’s Plan to Build a New Jail in the south Bronx,” which has over 2,530 signatures already.

Nash, a lifelong resident of Concord Avenue and a member of Community Board 1, said , “My family is concerned for my safety if they build it here.” He lives across the street from the site.

“I was born here, I lived my entire life here and I’m going to die here,” Nash recently said, cementing his commitment to Mott Haven and stopping the jail.

“We’re going to fight, fight, fight,” he said.

Nash worked closely with Parks and others to develop Diego Beekman’s own large-scale affordable housing project for the NYPD tow yard.

That affordable housing proposal would have split the superblock containing the current tow pound into two halves, creating two distinct blocks, while expanding adjacent Wales Avenue as a vehicular street that would run through the new development down into East 141st Street.

Major parts of the redevelopment include converting the NYPD grounds and surrounding block into 533 housing units spread throughout 12 individual buildings.

Alaya has said earlier that she doesn’t believe that the jail plan and one for affordable housing have to be mutually exclusive of one another.

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Congressman Jose E. Serrano formed an ‘anti Mott Haven jail’ coalition called Justice for the Bronx.

To watch the video, visit:

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