JUSTICE WEEK: THE FUTURE OF RIKERS

With the jails on Rikers Island set to close by 2026, what should be done with the land? And, who should be the chief beneficiaries of its eventual transformation? A look at options being debated.

Aired on May 24, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS,' VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF RIKERS ISLAND.

WITH THE JAIL SET TO CLOSE BY 2026, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE ISLAND?

SHOULD IT BECOME A PARK?

SHOULD IT BE USED FOR DEVELOPING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE?

SHOULD IT BE TURNED INTO REAL ESTATE?

AND WHO SHOULD BE THE CHIEF BENEFICIARIES OF THE EVENTUAL TRANSFORMATION?

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC SQUARE MEDIA, WE CONCLUDE OUR SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK SERIES OF PROGRAMS TONIGHT, WITH A LOOK AT THE OPTIONS BEING DEBATED.

THE SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS.'

WITH RAFAEL P. RAMON, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANNAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERYL TISH, SUE AND EDGAR WALKENHIME THE III, THE PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

CORPORATE FUNDING FUNDING FOR 'METROFOCUS' WAS FREEWAYED B BY: -- PROVIDED BY:

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

WE'RE CONTINUING OUR JUST JUSTICE WEEK SERIOUS IN PARTNERSHIP AND MEDIA AND TONIGHT WE DISCUSS THE ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER, A DESCRIPTION MANY APPLY TO IT TO RIKERS ISLAND.

THE JAIL IS BUILT ON A LANDFILL.

THE ISLAND WAS EXPANDED FROM 87 ACRES TO OVER 400 ACRES IN THE EARLY 1900s BY THE CITY.

THEY USED PRISONERS TO DEVELOP THE LAND WITH GARBAGE AND ASH INSTEAD OF SOIL.

AS THE YEARS HAVE GONE BY, THE JAILS HAVE SETTLED IN TO THE GROUND, CAUSING THEM TO SLOWLY DETERIORATE.

AND TODAY, THE LANDSCAPE CONTINUES, WE'RE TOLD, TO LEAK METHANE GAS.

WITH SUCH A HISTORY, LOCAL OFFICIALS HAVE PROPOSED A GREENER FUTURE FOR THE ISLAND.

SO WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE LAND?

SOME SEVEN YEARS OR SO FROM NOW, WHEN THE JAILS ARE CLOSED?

WELL, HERE WITH SOME INSIGHT IS COUNCILMAN CONSTANTINES WHERE THE ISLAND IS LOCATED.

GOOD TO HAVE YOU HER WITH US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT MAY SURPRISE A LOT OF PEOPLE HOW THE ISLAND GREW, AND IT CERTAINLY CREATES SOME PROBLEMS IN DECIDING WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH THIS ISLAND AND THESE FACILITIES AFTERWARDS.

WE'VE HEARD ONE OF THE SUGGESTIONS THAT THIS COULD BE A MARVELOUS, AN AREA, A VENUE, TO IMPROVE OUR POWER GRID.

AND HOW WOULD THAT HAPPEN, AND WHAT SORT OF IMPACT WOULD THAT HAVE ON OTHER COMMUNITIES?

I MEAN IT WOULD BE TRANSFORMATIVE.

WE ACTUALLY WORKED WITH THE CENTER OF URBAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL REFORM TO WORK WITH OPEN DATA AND IF WE JUST TOOK ONE-FOURTH OF THE ISLAND, NO MORE THAN A FOURTH, A HUNDRED ACRE, ENOUGH SOLAR POWER TO REPLACE EVERY SOLAR PLANT OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS.

WE WERE PROMISED OVER TIME, 20 YEARS AGO, IT WOULD LAST THREE YEARS.

AND IT IS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMUNITIES.

AND IN QUEENS, NEXT TO THE QUEENSBRIDGE AND THE RAVENSWOOD HOUSES AND THE ASTORIA HOUSES AND IT IS WHEN SOMEONE WAS BORN IN THAT YEAR IS NOW OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE.

GIVE US A BETTER SENSE OF IT.

AND I'M NOT ASKING YOU TO BE A SCIENTIST, OR AN ENGINEER, BUT GENERALLY SPEAKING, IF WE TOOK THOSE 100 ACRES, WHAT WOULD WE DO WITH THEM?

WHAT WOULD BE PLACED ON THEM THAT WOULD ALLOW US TO REPLACE THESE OTHER FACILITIES?

SOLAR POWER.

AND BEING THAT THIS IS SO CLOSE PROXIMITY TO LAGUARDIA AIRPORT, WHAT WE KNOW FOR CERTAIN, IT IS NEVER GOING TO BE A LARGE BUILDING THAT IS GOING TO HANG OVER THOSE SOLAR PANELS TO BLOCK OUT THE SUN, BECAUSE RIGHT IN THE FLIGHT PLAN.

SO WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY HERE TO USE THIS PART OF THE ISLAND, THAT'S IN THE RIGHT PLACE, TO REPLACE THESE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE POLLUTERS, THESE POWER PLANTS THAT HAVE BEEN THERE FOR WAY TOO LONG.

AND IT WOULD ACTUALLY ALLOW US, IF THEN THAT WOULD ACTUALLY ALLOW US TO CLOSE DOWN THOSE FACILITIES THAT AS YOU LOCATED LOCATED RIGHT IN THE MIDST OF RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES IN MANY CASES?

IN 2000, THEY PUT THEM DOWN WITHOUT ANY I.S. AND SAYS THE PLANTS ARE THERE FOR VIABLE, AND TAKE THEM DOWN IN THREE YEARS AND NEXT TO HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE NEIGHBORHOODS AND THIS HAS BEEN ANOTHER INSTANCE OF HOW OUR GOVERNMENT IS NOT DOING THE RIGHT THING, AND IT TIME TO TAKE THEM DOWN AND THIS WILL ALLOW US TO DO THAT.

YOU MENTIONED LAGUARDIA AIRPORT.

THERE HAS BEEN A SUGGESTION THAT IT COULD BE AN EXPANSION OF LAGUARDIA AIRPORT'S FACILITIES.

WHAT WOULD YOU THINK OF THAT?

I MEAN IT WOULD JUST, YOU'RE TAKING, AS YOU TALKED ABOUT IN YOUR INTRO TODAY, AN ISLAND THAT'S ASH AND HAS METHANE LEAKS AND WE'RE GOING TO ALLOW THAT TO LEAK INTO BOW EERIE BAY AND FLUSHING BAY, THAT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA.

IT IS GOING TO, WE'RE FINALLY GETTING TO A POINT WHERE OUR WATERS ARE SWIMMABLE AND FISHABLE AND WE'RE TRYING TO IMPROVE OUR WATER QUALITY AND FOR US TO SAY WE'RE GOING TO DREDGE UP THE BAY AND HAVE THOSE POLLUTANTS LEAK INTO IT, AND IT IS JUST NOT A GOOD IDEA.

TALKING ABOUT POLLUTANTS AND LEAKAGE, ONE OF THE OTHER SUGGESTIONS HAS TO DO WITH AN OBSERVE OF WASTE MANAGEMENT, AND HOW THE ISLAND COULD BE UTILIZED IN SOME FASHION THAT WAY.

HOW MIGHT THAT WORK?

THAT'S THE OTHER PART OF THIS.

I MEAN WE ALL KNOW THE SOCIAL AND MORAL IMPERATIVE TO CLOSING RIKERS ISLAND BUT WE CAN DO BOTH.

WE CAN BOTH DO THE SOLAR AND HAVE THEM REPLACE THESE, YOU KNOW, POWER PLANTS THAT HAVE BEEN THERE FOR DECADES, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, AND ALSO HAVE A WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT, STATE OF THE ART, 21st CENTURY THAT REPLACES AGED INFRASTRUCTURE IN COLLEGE POINT, NORTHERN ASTORIA, SOUTH BRONX, AND HUNTS POINT, AND NORTHERN MANHATTAN.

AND SO WE COULD AGAIN, NOT HAVE AS MUCH SEWAGE, CSOs, OVERFLOW, SEWAGE LEAKING INTO THE WATERWAYS AND HAVE THE SOLAR, AND MAKE THIS, MAKE --

SO IT COULD HANDLE BOTH ASPECTS OF IT.

THE LITMAN COMMISSION SPEAKS TO THAT.

RIGHT.

AND THIS IS A CHANCE FOR US TO REIMAGINE NEW YORK CITY IN THE 21st CENTURY A 21st CENTURY WASTE WATER FREMONT FACILITY.

21st CENTURY.

AND SET THE COURSE FOR THE NEXT 100 YEARS.

AND FOR SOMEONE LISTENING TO OUR CONVERSATION AND PERHAPS LEARNING FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS ISLAND WAS EXPANDED AND THE LANDFILL WAS GARBAGE AND ASH AND HEARING ABOUT THE METHANE GAS LEAKAGE, SOME WOULD SAY WHY DO WE DO ANYTHING AND WHY DON'T WE ABANDON IT AND DO WHAT WE CAN TO MAYBE MITIGATE WHATEVER THIS ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE IS AND JUST WALK AWAY?

WHAT WOULD THE ANSWER BE TO THAT, DO YOU THINK?

I WOULD SAY WE'VE MADE, THE CITY HAS COMPOUNDED ITS MISTAKES ON RIKERS ISLAND FOR DECADES UPON DECADE, EXPANDING IT, THE CRIMINAL WAY IN WHICH WE'VE OPERATED RIKERS ISLAND FOR SO LONG, MASS INCARCERATION, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY HERE, WE DON'T HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO GET LAND AND THINK ABOUT HOW WE REPLACE ALL THIS INFRASTRUCTURE, THIS IS A REAL OPPORTUNITY, IF WE MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY, THEY'RE GOING TO LEAVE POWER PLANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE NEIGHBORHOODS, WE ARE GOING TO LEAVE WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS ON OUR WATER FRONTS.

WE CAN CHANGE HOW WE THINK ABOUT NEW YORK CITY IN THE NEXT 50 TO 100 YEARS IF WE TAKE THIS BOLD STEP.

AND REMEDIATION, TOO.

THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY.

BUT IT WOULD HAVE TO BE FACTORED INTO IT IN SOME FASHION, THE NOTION OF REMEDIATION AND REPAIRING THAT DAMAGE.

ABSOLUTELY.

BUT IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR LIVING.

IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR LONG-TERM INHABITANTS.

BUT IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE PUT POWER GENERATION AND SEWAGE AND OTHER USES THERE THAT COULD BE BENEFICIAL TO THE CITY IN THE LONG RUN.

SO YOU WOULDN'T ANTICIPATE SEEING REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS, FOR INSTANCE, SAYING, HEY, WE'LL GET IN, WE'LL DEVELOP THIS, MIXED USE DEVELOPMENTS, WHATEVER, THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE ON THE RADAR SCREEN?

I MEAN THIS IS AN ISOLATED ISLAND THAT THE ONLY WAY ON OR OFF IS A BRIDGE THAT COME THROUGH OUR COMMUNITY, AND THE EMISSIONS FROM THOSE CARS, AND BUSES, AND EVERYTHING ELSE, WOULD BE BAD FOR OUR CITY, AND YOU KNOW, THEY TALK ABOUT MAYBE A FERRY, BUT REALLY, LOOK AT THE HIGHEST AND BEST USE.

HIGHEST AND BEST USE, TO BENEFIT THE MOST PEOPLE, THE ONES THAT REALLY NEED IT THE MOST, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE IMPACTED ABOUT YOU RIKERS ISLAND, BY OUR COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, AND LOW INCOME COMMUNITY, THE SAME COMMUNITIES THESE POWER PLANTS SIT IN, THE SAME COMMUNITIES THAT THESE WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS SIT IN.

IT IS TIME TO GIVE THOSE COMMUNITIES RELIEF A PLAYGROUND FOR THE RICH IS NOT SOMETHING CHI SUPPORT.

LAST QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU, ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE THAT THERE IS WILLINGNESS ON THE PART OF VARIOUS LEGISLATORS, CITY STATE LEGISLATORS TO DO SOME OF THESE POSITIVE THINGS THAT YOU MENTIONED, LIKE THE POWER AND THE WASTE MANAGEMENT TOGETHER.

I HEAR A LOT OF, YOU KNOW, REAL POWER COMES FROM ACTIVISM.

SO ON THE GROUND, SPEAKING WITH ACTIVISTS ON THE GROUND, WE'RE GETTING A LOT OF REALLY POSITIVE FEEDBACK.

COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN IMPACTED FOR SO LONG.

YOU KNOW, THIS CONVERSATION, THEY HAVE LED THIS CONVERSATION, ON CLOSING RIKERS, FROM THE VERY BEGINNING AND THE LEGISLATORS HAVE COME SECOND.

SO WITH WORKING WITH THESE GREAT ADVOCATES, THAT HAVE BEEN FIGHTING TO CLOSE RIKERS, WE'RE SEEING A GROUND SWELL TO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION, NOT ONLY ABOUT CLOSING RIKERS, BUT HAVING THE SIMULTANEOUS CONVERSATION WHAT RIKERS CAN BE AND WHAT MA MEANS FOR NEIGHBORHOODS.

I THINK IT IS GOING TO BE A CONTINUING INTERESTING CONVERSATION AMONGST ALL THE FACTIONS INVOLVED HERE.

WE APPRECIATE YOU SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

WE WILL PLAN ON GETTING YOU BACK HERE AND YOU CAN SORT OF UPDATE THIS AS IT MOVES FORWARD.

APPRECIATE BEING HERE.

GOOD SEEING YOU.

APPRECIATE IT SO MUCH.

> IT IS OFFICIAL.

THE JAILS ON RIKERS ISLAND ARE SET TO CLOSE IN 2026.

BUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE ISLAND AFTER THE JAILS ARE GONE?

WHILE THE RIKERS FALLS WITHIN COUNCIL DISTRICT 22 WHICH IS PRIMARILY IN QUEENS, THE ISLAND IS ACTUALLY CONSIDERED PART OF THE BRONX.

AND MANY ARGUE THAT SINCE THAT BUROUGH HAS EXPERIENCED DECADES OF DISINVESTMENT AND NEGLECT, IT SHOULD REAP THE LION SHARE OF THE BENEFITS OF WHATEVER IS DEVELOPED ON THE NEW RIKERS ISLAND.

AND JOINING US NOW TO CONTINUE OUR JUSTICE WEEK CONVERSATION THIS WEEK, WITH PUBLISHED SQUARE, COUNCIL MBA RAPHAEL, THE CHAIR OF THE COUNCIL'S COMMITTEE ON LAND USE, AND FROM THE SOUTH BRONX.

CONGRESSMAN, THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

SO COUNCIL MEMBER, BEFORE WE GET TO THE FUTURE OF RIKERS ISLAND, LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ITS PRESENT.

AS WE KNOW, THE PLAN IS TO REPLACE THE JAILS THAT EXIST, IN RIKERS ISLAND, WITH FOUR SMALLER JAILS.

THERE ARE A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE BRONX WHO ARE UPSET WITH THE PLACE THAT THE MAYOR HAS DECIDED TO PUT THE JAIL IN THE BRONX.

DO YOU SHARE THEIR SENTIMENT?

FIRST, THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME ON YOUR SHOW.

YOU KNOW, WHEN WE LOOK BACK AT THE WAY THIS PLAN WAS ROLLED OUT, VIA THIS CURRENT ADMINISTRATION, DID NOT COME TO THE COMMUNITY FOR ANY COMMUNITY INPUT.

THEY JUST DECIDED WHERE THEY WERE GOING TO PLACE THIS BUROUGH-BASED JAILS AND JUST MADE AN ANNOUNCEMENT.

THE LOCATION WHERE THEY'RE PLANNING ON PUTTING, OR SITING THIS JAIL IN THE SOUTH BRONX, IT IS NOT IN MY COUNCIL DISTRICT.

IT IS LITERALLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM MY COUNCIL DISTRICT.

HE HAS CHOSEN, THEY HAVE CHOSEN THE TOLL POUND.

NOW, MANY YEARS AGO, THAT PARTICULAR LOCATION WAS PROMISED, THAT LAND WAS PROMISED TO THE GEEGLE BEAKMAN COMMUNITY WHO ARE A HOUSING PROVIDER TO BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

THERE SO WE WERE KIND OF TAKEN OFFGUARD WHEN THEY, THEY CHOSE THIS PARTICULAR LOCATION.

NOW, WHEN YOU GO BACK AND YOU READ THE LITMAN COMMISSION'S REPORT, ON CLOSING DOWN RIKERS, FIRST, THEY NEEDED TO DECREASE THE POPULATION OF RIKERS, SECOND THEIR RECOMMENDATIONS WERE TO BUILD THESE BOROUGH BASED JAILS IN A CIVIC CENTER OR AS CLOSE TO THE COURTHOUSE AS POSSIBLE.

WELL THE BRONX HALL OF JUSTICE IS NOWHERE NEAR.

IT IS TWO MILES AWAY FROM WHERE THE LOCATION IS.

AND THEY'RE LITERALLY BEHIND THE BRONX COURTHOUSE, THERE IS A PIECE OF VACANT LAND THAT CAN BE USED.

WELL, THE CITY SAYS IT CANNOT, BECAUSE IT IS TOO SMALL, THE FOOTPRINT IS TOO SMALL AND THEY WOULD HAVE TO, THEY SAY THEY WOULD HAVE TO BUILD A SKYSCRAPER OF A JAIL IN ORDER TO DO EVERYTHING THEY NEEDED TO DO WITH THE JAIL.

WELL, WHEN YOU REALLY LOOK AT THE POLITICS OF THIS, THERE'S TWO LOTS HERE.

ONE LOT BLODGES TO THE STATE.

THE OTHER LOT BELONGS TO THE CITY.

THE CITY HAS CHOSEN NOT TO ASK THE STATE FOR PERMISSION TO UTILIZE THAT LOT.

SO TO ME, THESE ARE JUST EXCUSES THAT THEY ARE UTILIZING.

BECAUSE THE LOCAL MEMBER WHO REPRESENTS THAT AREA, AND THE COURTHOUSE, IS AGAINST BUILDING A JAIL BEHIND THE COURTHOUSE.

NOW, YOU HAVE ANOTHER MEMBER WHO IS MY COLLEAGUE, DIANE IALLA AND I GAVE HER MAJOR KUDOS EVEN THOUGH SHE AND I DO NOT AGREE ON THE SITE.

SHE SUPPORTS THE SITE.

BECAUSE SHE WANTS TO SEE THE CLOSURE OF RIKERS HAPPEN AND SHE REALIZES IF ANOTHER ONE OF MY COLLEAGUES DOES NOT WANT THIS JAIL IN MY DISTRICT THEN THIS RIKERS ISLAND CLOSURE PLAN CAN BE KILLED.

BUT SOME PEOPLE SAY THIS IS A MANIFESTATION OF NOT IN MY BACKYARD MENTALITY.

BECAUSE IT IS EASY TO BE AGAINST RIKERS ISLAND, THAT WANT TO CLOSE, IT IS MUCH HARDER WHEN YOU HAVE TO MAKE A PERSONAL SACRIFICE OR A POLITICAL SACRIFICE, FOR ITS REPLACEMENT.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

WELL, LOOK, WE ALSO HAVE TO LOOK AT THE SURROUNDING AREAS OF WHERE THEY'RE PROPOSING THIS JAIL.

SHOULD THEY PLACE THIS JAIL AT THIS LOCATION, AT THE TOLL POUND, IN A THREE MILE RADIUS, THERE WILL BE THREE JAILS.

RIGHT NOW, YOU HAVE THE HORIZON JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER WHICH IS IN MY COUNCIL DISTRICT.

FURTHER DOWN, SOUTH, YOU WOULD HAVE THIS BOROUGH JAIL THEY'RE PROPOSING AND FURTHER DOWN IN HUNT'S POINT, YOU HAVE THE CENTER, THE BARGE, AND THIS BARGE CAME TO OUR COMMUNITY IN THE SOUTH BRONX IN THE LATE '80s RIKERS WAS OVERSATURATED, HE ORDERED THREE FLOATING JAIL, ONE OF THEM CAME TO THE SOUTH BRONX, IT WAS DOCKED IN 1992, AND HERE WE HAVE MAYOR DAVID DENKINS WAS MAYOR AND HE CAME TO THE COMMUNITY BACK THEN IN 1992 AND SAID THIS WOULD BE A TEMPORARY THING.

IT WAS CLOSED FOR A WHILE AND THEN REOPENED IN '95, I BELIEVE.

ARE THERE PLANS TO CLOSE THE BARGE ALONG WITH RIKERS?

WELL, SO IN HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH THE ADMINISTRATION, THE CLOSURE OF THE BARGE, WHICH IS AN ANNEX OF RIKERS ISLAND, IS PART OF THE PLAN.

THEY ARE PLANNING ON CLOSING DOWN THE BARGE AT THE END TAIL OF THE PROCESS IN 2026 AND I FIND THAT UNACCEPTABLE.

AND I'VE TOLD THIS TO THE MAYOR, MR. MAYOR, IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT CLOSING DOWN RIKERS, THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN WHILE YOU'RE STILL MAYOR.

BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION FOR THE BARGE CONTINUING TO BE OPEN SINCE IT EXISTED FOR THE OVERFLOW OF RIKERS, WHICH, WHOSE POPULATION HAS DRASTICALLY DECREASED?

THERE IS NO EXPLANATION.

RIGHT NOW, YOU HAVE AN 800-BED JAIL, YOU KNOW, IN HUNTS POINT, AND IT IS VERY SIMPLE.

THE MAYOR CAN JUST TRANSFER OVER THE DETAINEES OVER TO RIKERS, AND HE CAN CLOSE DOWN THAT BARGE.

HE CAN SIGNAL THE BARGE AS WE LIKE TO SAY AND GIVE THE LAND BACK TO THE COMMUNITY.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TAKE PLACE IN THE POST-JAIL RIKERS?

WELL, YOU KNOW, I AM, LOOK, I'M A COMMUNITY GUY, I COME FROM THE LOCAL COMMUNITY BOARDS, AND I STRONGLY BELIEVE IN THE COMMUNITY, STARTING THAT CONVERSATION WITH THE COMMUNITY, AND ENDING THAT CONVERSATION WITH THE COMMUNITY.

AND SO YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE THE QUEENS COMMUNITY, AND YOU ALSO HAVE THE BRONX COMMUNITY, AND JUST, TO GIVE YOU SOME INSIGHT, YOU KNOW, RIKERS ISLAND IS LITERALLY IN QUEENS, BUT THE LINES, THE WAY THE LINES ARE DRAWN OUT, RIKERS ISLAND IS PART OF THE BRONX, SO WHEN VIOLENCE OCCURS IN RIKERS ISLAND, SHOULD THEY BE A FELONY ASSAULT, THOSE NUMBERS, THE CRIME STATS GET ATTACHED TO THE PRECINCT IN THE SOUTH BRONX.

THAT'S AMAZING.

WHICH I FIND IT TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

RIGHT.

SO FOR DECADES, THE SOUTH BRONX, MY COMMUNITY, HAS SUFFERED FROM HIGH CRIME ON PAPER BUT IN REALITY THOSE CRIMES ARE NOT ACTUALLY HAPPENING IN OUR STREETS.

AND SO I STRONGLY FEEL THAT WHEN, AS WE MOVE FORWARD WITH THE CONVERSATION, AS TO WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN RIKERS, THE SOUTH BRONX, COMMUNITY BOARD TWO, WHERE THE 3413 PRECINCT IS AT, 413 PRECINCT IS AT, SHOULD BE AT THE TABLE MAKING DECISIONS.

NEVER MIND THE PEOPLE IN DISTRICT 22 IN QUEENS.

THEY NEED TO BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION AS WELL.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE?

WE HAVE ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT.

WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE?

THERE'S MANY CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SOME TYPE OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, WHETHER IT IS SOLAR PANELS, JOB CREATION, THAT WOULD COME FROM THIS INFRASTRUCTURE.

RIKERS ISLAND IS VERY BIG.

IT HAS ROOM FOR A LOT.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME PARK, AFFORDABLE HOUSING?

THERE IS A POSSIBILITY FOR PARKS.

THERE IS A POSSIBILITY FOR A FERRY SYSTEM.

WHERE YOU CAN GO DIRECTLY FROM HUNT'S POINT, FROM THE BRONX, TO QUEENS, BACK AND FORTH.

SO THERE IS A WIDE RANGE OF POSSIBILITIES THAT CAN HAPPEN THERE.

BUT THE CONVERSATIONS NEED TO START WITH THE COMMUNITY.

AND THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS FAILED TO DO THAT AS WELL.

ALL RIGHT.

WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS THERE.

COUNCIL MEMBER, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

> WITH THE JAILS ON RIKERS ISLAND OFFICIALLY CLOSING IN 2026, THE BIG QUESTION NOW IS WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THIS NEWFOUND SPACE?

WITH REAL ESTATE IN NEW YORK CITY IN SHORT SUPPLY, IDEAS FOR THE ISLAND HAVE SPARKED A CITYWIDE CONVERSATION ACROSS THE FIVE BUROUGHS.

WITH SOME OF THE QUESTIONS BEING, SHOULD WE SELL THE LAND TO REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS?

OR EXPAND THE LAGUARDIA AIRPORT?

OR SHOULD GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE BE THE PRIORITY?

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PUBLIC SQUARE MEDIA, WE'RE CONTINUING THE JUSTICE WEEK SERIES AND SEARCH FOR ANSWERS, HERE WITH INSIGHT IS CLAIRE WISE, ARCHITECT AND URBAN DESIGN PARTNER AT WXY.

CLAIRE, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

GLAD TO BE HERE.

FIRST, FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT KNOW, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR POSITION WITH WXY, AND WHAT IT IS THAT YOU'VE DONE, ESPECIALLY WITH THE CITY.

SO JUST TO GIVE A BIT OF CONTEXT, ON WHAT AN ARCHITECTURE PLANNING AND URBAN DESIGN FIRM DOES IN NEW YORK, WE ARE KNOWN FOR PROJECTS LIKE REBUILDING THE ROCKAWAY BOARD WALK AFTER SANDY.

REFORMULATING THE BATTERY, WHICH HAS A BIKE PATH AND A CAROUSEL CALLED SEAGLASS.

AND MOST RECENTLY, OUR FIRM DID A NEW PLAN, FUTURE PLAN, FOR THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD.

AND A DESEGREGATION PLAN FOR DISTRICT 15 FOR THE MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN BROOKLYN.

SO PLANNING AND PHYSICAL PLANNING, AND DESIGN ARE VERY OPEN, WE TAKE THESE HARD QUESTIONS, AND TRY AND HELP WITH THE FUTURE.

OKAY.

BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE ALL OF THE ASPECTS OF THE CITY THAT WE ENJOY, BUT MAY NOT ACTUALLY STOP TO THINK ABOUT HOW THEY GOT THERE.

EXACTLY.

OKAY.

SO IT IS IN THAT CONTEXT, REALLY, NOT BECAUSE WE SPECIALIZE IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.

WHICH WE ACTUALLY DON'T.

OKAY.

BUT IRONICALLY, SINCE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM, RIKERS ISLAND, THAT DOES LEAVE THIS PLOT OF LAND THAT WON'T BE, AT LEAST BEING USED AS A JAIL ANYMORE.

SO I JUST WANTED TO FIND OUT, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT IS THE BEST WAY THAT YOU CAN SEE FOR THE CITY TO MOVE FORWARD?

SO THE CITY IS A SERIES OF ISLANDS.

AND RIKERS IS ANOTHER ISLAND AND WE'VE HAD RANDALLS AND WARDS ISLAND TO CONTEND WITH, GOVERNOR'S ISLAND.

WE HAVE ALL SORTS OF ISLANDS INCLUDING MANHATTAN, WHICH IS AN ISLAND.

BUT RIKERS, IN A WAY, FOLLOWED THE PATTERN OF SOME OF THE OTHER ISLANDS LIKE ROOSEVELT ISLAND, WHERE WE ISOLATED A USE THAT NO ONE WANTED TO HAVE, IN THEIR NEIGHBORS, AND WE TURNED IT INTO A RATHER DIFFICULT SITUATION, WHICH JUDGE LITMAN HAS TERMED A PENAL COLONY.

AND REALLY THE OPPORTUNITY OF RIKERS, IN REFORMING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM, IS TO SEE IT AS A RESOURCE FOR NEW YORK AGAIN.

AND SOME OF THE BIG IDEAS THAT HAVE POPPED OUT ARE KIND OF MAKING A NEW GENERATION OF INFRASTRUCTURE IN NEW YORK.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS.

AND WE DON'T HAVE BIO GAS.

AND WE'RE NOT LOOKING AT SCALE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, AND RIKERS GIVES THE CITY A CHANCE TO DO SOME OF THESE THINGS IT ON A BIG SCALE.

WELL, SPEAKING OF SOME OF THOSE GREEN ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS, THERE'S OF COURSE GOING TO BE PUSH AND PULL IN TERMS OF WHERE THE FUNDING FOR SOMETHING LIKE THAT IS GOING TO COME FROM.

BUT IS THAT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE DONE IN CONJUNCTION WITH PERHAPS SOMETHING THAT THE PUBLIC MIGHT SEE AS MORE PRACTICAL, LIKE EXPANDING LAGUARDIA AIRPORT OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

WELL, I THINK THAT, AND FROM WHAT I'VE SEEN OF THE FEASIBILITY STUDY, YOU ABSOLUTELY COULD EXPAND LAGUARDIA, AND STILL FIT A LOT OF THESE NEW KINDS OF INFRASTRUCTURE IN.

BUT YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO FIT ALL OF IT.

AND RUNWAYS HAVE A LOT OF SECURITY ISSUES.

THEY HAVE A LOT OF CONSTRAINTS.

IT REALLY STRETCHES THE HEIGHT LIMITS FOR DEVELOPMENT.

EVEN IN THE SOUTH BRONX.

EVEN FARTHER.

THERE'S NOISE.

YOU EXTEND THAT RUNWAY AND YOU MIGHT HAVE EVEN NOISE YER CONDITIONS.

FOR NEIGHBORS AROUND HERE.

AND I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK AT AIRPORT NEEDS.

KIND OF MORE REGIONALLY.

REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION REALLY KIND OF PUSHED SOME IDEAS ABOUT RETHINKING NEWARK, ABOUT HOW TO GET ONE SEAT RIDES EVERYWHERE, HOW TO KIND OF MAKE GREENER AIRPORTS, AND YOU KNOW, OVER AND OVER AGAIN, INCREASING THE RUNWAYS, ON AN AIRPORT THAT IS ALREADY PRETTY VULNERABLE, MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST SOLUTION IN THE LONG TERM.

YOU MENTIONED EARLIER IN YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT LOOKING TO SOME OF THE OTHER ISLANDS AS AN EXAMPLE OF WHERE WE COULD POSSIBLY BE GOING.

WELL, FIRST ONE IS MEMORIALIZATION, RIGHT?

I THINK ONE OF THE KEY THINGS IS TO REALLY LEARN LESSONS FROM RIKERS, AND TO CREATE, NOT ON RIKERS, BUT THE POTENTIALS ON RIKERS, A REAL MEMORIAL AND A TESTAMENT TO THE LIVES BROKEN AND LOST, AND HOW WE'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY LOOK AT THE FUTURE.

AND A NUMBER OF OUR ISLANDS ALSO HAVE SERVED AS MEMORIAL.

YOU KNOW, AND EQUALLY, I THINK WE COULD LOOK TO GOVERNOR'S ISLAND, WHERE THEY'RE TESTING T IDEAS, BUT THEY MADE TWO GIANT YELLS AND ALL SORTS OF THINGS, IT HAS BECOME QUITE THE PERFORMANCE SPACE.

QUITE THE CONCERT SPACE.

IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO COMBINE THESE INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS WITH THINGS LIKE PLACES LIKE FOR GIANT CONCERTS.

ALTHOUGH MAYBE WITH THE AIRPLANES IT WILL STILL BE TOO NOISY.

OF COURSE THE ONGOING ISSUE FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE CITY IS WE NEED MORE HOUSING, WE NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU SEE AS THE BEST USE OF SPACE, CONSIDERING RIKERS LOCATION, ITS HISTORY, ET CETERA?

SO, YOU KNOW, WE'RE BACK TO THE LESSONS LEARNED.

THINK ABOUT THE ROCKAWAYS, WHICH IS VERY VULNERABLE.

AND HOW MANY PUBLIC HOUSING AND NURSING HOMES AND, YOU KNOW, EXTENDED CARE FACILITIES WE PUT OUT IN A PLACE THAT IS VERY VULNERABLE.

AND ALTHOUGH RIKERS ITSELF IS ACTUALLY PRETTY WELL ABOVE THE FLOOD PLAIN, IT'S INACCESSIBLE BY TRANSIT.

AGAIN, THERE'S, YOU KNOW, AIRPORTS ARE NOT THE CLEANEST USES, AND IN IT, IN ITSELF, IT IS A BROWNFIELD SITE.

I MEAN IT IS A SITE THAT NEEDS TO BE CLEANED UP THERE.

IS ALL SORTS OF TOXIC USES.

SO RIKERS NEEDS TO BE CLEANED UP BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT TEMPORARILY HOUSING PEOPLE.

BUT THE REAL OPPORTUNITY IS, WE HAVE ALL SORTS OF PLACES, FOR GARAGES, AND STOREHOUSES, AND WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANTS, AND ENERGY PLANTS, THAT E RIGHT INHE BNX AND ON THE WATER FRONT UES, A IF WE CAN MOVE THEM TO RIKERS, THEN YOU HAVE PLACES ALREADY IN NEIGHBORHOODS TO BUILD MORE HOUSING.

AND I THINK A LOT MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING SHOULD BE BUILT.

BUT IDEALLY IT'S BUILT IN NEIGHBORHOODS, IN CONJUNCTION WITH ACCESS TO WATER FRONT, WHERE PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY IN CRAMPED SITUATIONS, IN THEIR OWN NEIGHBORHOODS, CAN ACTUALLY FIND NEW PLACES TO LIVE.

ALL RIGHT.

SO PERHAPS NOT QUITE A LUXURY DEVELOPMENT ON RIKERS ISLAND.

I WOULD SAY OTHER PLACES ARE KIND OF MORE RIGHT FOR THAT THAN RIKERS ISLAND.

AND IN A WAY, RIKERS ISLAND IS SORT OF A PERFECT CENTRALLY LOCATED SITE FOR KIND OF MAKING THE CITY WORK BETTER.

ALL RIGHT.

WELL, YOU DEFINITELY LAID OUT SOME VERY EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS.

I WOULD HOPE THAT SOME OF THE PEOPLE, OUR LAWMAKERS WHO MIGHT BE MAKING THESE DECISIONS ARE WATCHING THIS SEGMENT.

I HOPE SO.

SO THEY CAN GET THE WHEELS TURNING.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

AND GIVING US SOME IDEA OF THE FACT THAT ONCE WE CLOSE THIS JAIL, WE DO HAVE A PLOT OF LAND THAT WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH.

IT'S AN OPPORTUNITY.

THANK YOU.

> SO FROM ALL OF US HERE AT 'METROFOCUS,' WE WANT TO THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING OUR JUSTICE WEEK CONVERSATIONS, ABOUT RIKERS ISLAND, AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN OUR CITY.

THANKS FOR TUNING IN.

WE WILL SEE YOU AGAIN SOON.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY:

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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