Samantha Liebman

Queens residents hold town hall over controversial jail plans

February 01, 2019 - 2:56 pm

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A town hall, organized by the Community Preservation Coalition, was held in Kew Gardens, Queens, Thursday night about the controversial plans to build a jail in the neighborhood. 

While many Kew Gardens residents say they are not opposed to criminal justice reform, they don't agree with Mayor Bill de Blasio's plans to replace Riker's Island with jails in four borough -- including a 29-story one in their backyard.

Kew Gardens civic leaders, including Dominic Pistone, said the city is not listening to residents' concerns about the traffic and infrastructure problems the jail will present.

"We thought the idea was that they would get our input as to what the problem is with the size of the jail," Pistone told 1010 WINS' Samantha Liebman. "Their idea is that we're going to give them input about the color of the drapes."

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio told 1010 WINS, "We are continuing our engagement with New Yorkers to develop a smaller, safer and fairer justice system. The City has established a number of forums for people to give input and participate in the plan, including multiple working groups with more than 75 members, Neighborhood Advisory Councils for all four proposed sites, and ongoing meetings with stakeholders including tenants' associations, homeowners, criminal justice advocates and service providers."

Residents were also upset that city councillor Karen Koslowitz was not at the town hall and has not commented on the jail.

But a spokesman for Koslowitz who attended the gathering, said, "If she comes out against it, the mayor will shut her out and she will have no seat at the table to negotiate the worst case scenario."