Opponents send scathing MH jail letter

Opponents send scathing MH jail letter
Schneps Media/Alex Mitchell

Diego Beekman Mutual Housing CEO Arline Parks promised to disrupt the city’s plan to build a jail in Mott Haven and now she’s putting her threat into motion.

Parks along with a legal team scripted a scathing, detailed letter to the chair of the NYC City Planning Commission, Marisa Lago about siting the Bronx jail at a former NYPD tow pound on 320 Concord Avenue.

First and foremost, the Parks team demanded that the city give the Mott Haven jail site its own Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Currently, the Bronx’ soon-to-be-constructed 26-story jail is bundled along with the other three citywide interment facilities as the procedure began on Monday, March 25.

“The environmental impacts of the four actions should be evaluated separately,” the letter stated. “The Bronx facility, especially, should be analyzed separately. It is materially different from the other facilities and will have different impacts,” it continued.

Parks and her legal squad also made note that this ‘citywide’ prison push omits the placement of a jail facility on Staten Island as well.

She, along with Diego Beekman, had aimed to acquire the tow pound from NYC to create a super-block of affordable housing that included community amenities such as a putting a super-market within what studies found to be a food desert.

“The Diego Beekman development plan for the NYPD tow pound site should be evaluated as an alternative development scenario, whereas the other sites may not have such a community development plan,” the letter stated.

“It is even more appropriate to provide its [The Bronx jail’s] own environmental review since it has a different purpose: it not only includes the jail but hundreds of units of affordable housing, which should require HPD to be named an involved or interested agency,” it had continued.

The letter also stated that building this jail should be contingent not only on the involvement of HPD but the determination of what will happen to the Vernon C. Bain jail barge in Hunts Point as well.

“While there is a theoretical common purpose/goal for the four sites, there is no actual timeline for closing facilities on Rikers Island or a determination on the future of the Vernon C. Bain Center,” it stated.

Parks also went after the city for bundling its statistics and findings for the four projects as one rather than being broken up borough by borough.

Calling that a “significant risk,” the letter then stated “for members of the public interested in impacts in the Bronx, for instance, they may be confused finding impacts disclosed for another project in another borough.”

Of course, it also called out the fact that 320 Concord Avenue is miles away from the Bronx Hall of Justice on East 161st Street while building a facility adjacent to said complex is another viable option, which Bronx elected officials Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Congressman Jose E. Serrano both support.

“Further, this site causes impacts by direct displacement (the removal of the NYC Police Department tow pound), the environmental impacts of which are not studied,” the letter stated as well.

Parks and her team at Diego Beekman are considering a lawsuit against the city based on what the letter called “a flawed environmental review” along with the effects the prison will have on Mott Haven and the entire borough of the Bronx.