As delivered by Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden
Good afternoon, and thank you for having me here today. My name is Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden, and I am here on behalf of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to discuss the de Blasio administration’s wrongheaded proposal to build a new jail in Mott Haven.
The only thing that stands in the way of a dramatic mistake, one that will negatively affect The Bronx for decades to come, are you and your colleagues on the City Council. I hope you will act to protect The Bronx and its people from the consequences of poor planning and political expediency.
Before I begin, I must make it clear as I always do: Rikers Island must be closed. It is an abomination, and a stain on the soul of our city.
But that closure should be handled in the right way. The necessity to close this prison does not excuse the de Blasio administration’s selection of the wrong site for a new jail in The Bronx, 320 Concord Avenue, which is currently operating as a city-owned tow yard. Instead, the administration has weaponized the land use process against The Bronx in order to protect their plans to build a new jail on the wrong site.
Mott Haven and the residents of Diego Beekman have fought for decades to overcome the crime, drugs, despair and abandonment that plagued their neighborhood. They rolled up their sleeves to turn it back into the livable community it is today. I am adamantly opposed to the burden the proposed borough-based jail for my borough will place on one of the country’s poorest urban communities.
Unfortunately, this site ignores both their hard work and the Lippman Commission’s proposal to place borough-based jails near courthouses. Instead of reaching out to the community and engaging on this site selection, the administration has decided to impose a monolithic, oppressive structure adjacent to a community of reclaimed apartments, homes and schools, in the name of political expediency.
There is an obviously better site for this proposed jail, one that heeds the Lippman Commission’s recommendation to site new jails adjacent to existing justice facilities, located right next to the Bronx Hall of Justice. Despite the clear and obvious benefits of this site, the city has refused to budge from their current position.
You, members of the City Council, have the ability to right this absurd wrong and force the city to select a better site for a new Bronx jail.
It is now up to the City Council and its members to listen to the people of this borough and adjust this proposal accordingly. Any failure to do otherwise will deleteriously alter the face of this borough for decades to come. We need your support.