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Bronx Locals Suing City Over Proposed Rikers Island Jail Location

Riker's Island aerial view

Residents in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx are railing against the possibility of a jail in their area, launching a lawsuit to try and block the development.

Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association has filed a petition against the city, Commercial Observer reports, arguing the community was not consulted enough during the site selection process.

The site, at 320 Concord Ave., is across from the Diego Beekman apartment building, and is one of four places in New York City that is being considering for the replacement of Rikers Island.

The petitions take exception with the fact that the required review process considered all four sites as one — which they claim is in breach of the city’s charter. Earlier this year, the city said all four sites would be subject to the same land use review procedure. The lawsuit also argues that the residential area will be disrupted because the site is not near a courthouse.

“Imagine a 1,400-bed jail that’s 300 feet taller than the next closest building, and ramming it into the poorest congressional district in America, right smack in the middle of a residential community that’s already suffering from gang violence and poverty,” said Adam Stein, an attorney representing the association and another resident, per CO. “The residents of this community deserve a much more fair and transparent process.”

In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he had agreed to close Rikers, following the recommendation of a commission report. The 27-member blue-ribbon commission recommended replacing the notorious prison with smaller facilities throughout the five boroughs.

“We’ve been engaging with surrounding communities for each proposed site for months and are taking their feedback into account, but nothing will derail us from our mission to close Rikers Island,” a spokesperson for the mayor told CO.