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Jail plan in court: Mott Haven sues NYC

320 Concord Avenue
Bronx Times
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The mayor’s plan to build a prison in the south Bronx is ‘criminal’ in the eyes of the Mott Haven community.

That sentiment was reiterated when that community launched a lawsuit against the city over its plan to phase out Rikers Island and building a 24 to 25 story jail in Mott Haven on Thursday, May 30.

The urgently marked suit was inked by Diego Beekman Mutual Housing, which owns properties surrounding the planned jail at 745 E. 141st Street, and Walter Nash, a Community Board 1 member who would live directly across from the planned facility on Concord Avenue.

It specifically targets Mayor de Blasio, the NYC Department of City Planning and the city’s planning commission and is supported by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“The lawsuit filed by the residents of Diego Beekman Houses is a direct result of this administra­tion’s failure to give true consideration to an alternative site in The Bronx,” Diaz said.

That alternative site he is referring to is adjacent to the Bronx Hall of Justice on East 161st Street, which is also referenced in the lawsuit.

“Yet the city has blatantly refused to give this location any considerat­ion,” Diaz said.

Beekman’s legal team, Stein Adler Dabah & Zelkowitz, a midtown Manhattan law firm, compiled a list of grievances in the legal complaint as to why the Mott Haven jail plan seeks legal relief.

First and foremost, it indicates that Diego Beekman had a plan to acquire that piece city owned land to expand its affordable housing model while adding in a mixed use component as well for the economic benefit of the neighborhood.

It also references that the Mott Haven site is not within a close proximity to the Bronx Hall of Justice and other courthouses “meaning that detainees will have to be shuttled several miles through the adjacent neighborhoods on buses with armed guards each day,” according to the suit.

Diaz backed up that sentiment, claiming that this site “does not meet the principles of restorative justice.”

The lawsuit also indicates that the Bronx site requires five land use actions while the ones in each of the other boroughs only require either two or three.

It also mentions that the uniform land use review procedure “is facially defective in failing” to meet Diaz’s comments and alternative site proposal, in its own words.

“In the interest of political expediency the administration has chosen the wrong site for its proposed jail,” Diaz said, continuing that the Mott Haven community is jusfied to take legal action against the “city’s intransige­nce.”

Each of the 24 members that sit on CB1 voted against the mayor’s plan to erect the incarceration facility in their residential area on Thursday, May 23.

That vote came exactly a week after the CB1 Land Use Committee also unanimously locked down the proposal as well.

The board’s Land Use Ccommittee is chaired by Beekman’s CEO, Arline Parks who personally signed off on the lawsuit.

“This land use process must be stopped so that the Bronx jail site can be independently reviewed and we can determine the best location for a new jail, not the quickest,” she said.

Updated 6:14 pm, June 5, 2019
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