Will Sunset Park Councilman Menchaca Derail Mayor’s Rikers Jail Reform Plan?

Photo by Craig Hubert

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The plan to close Rikers and build new jails in Brooklyn and three other boroughs is a scheme to enrich developers while offering no guarantees on any promises to fix the city’s broken jail system, said Sunset Park Councilman Carlos Menchaca in an unusually frank prepared statement today. Right now, the City Council is voting on the plan.

The plan to close Rikers and build four new jails in the most populous boroughs passed the City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions and the Committee on Land Use Wednesday, the City Council announced today. Councilman Stephen Levin is among those who support it.

After widespread criticism of the height and capacity of the proposed jails, this week the City Council brokered some changes, with Levin engineering a reduction in the height of the Brooklyn complex from 39 stories to 29.

“I believe this vote only enriches developers in the short term while leaving the fate of Rikers in the hands of a future mayor and a future council,” Menchaca said in his statement, which he published on Twitter ahead of the vote. “Yet the Mayor asks us to trust him. I do not trust the mayor. Do you?”

Recently, Menchaca has also opposed the Industry City rezoning and UPS’ demolition of Lidgerwood in Red Hook.

The four council members in whose districts the new jails would be built today said they will vote in favor of the plan. Typically other council members follow the lead of the district council member on land use issues.

Under the proposal, the 11-story Brooklyn House of Detention at 275 Atlantic Avenue would be replaced with a 29-story building. The ground floor will have retail and community space. The current capacity of 800 beds would increase to 885, according to the most recent reports. The goal is for Rikers to close by 2026.

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