BX officials show opposition to Mott Haven jail proposal

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MOTT HAVEN -

Bronx officials and community members are showing their displeasure toward the proposed site of a new jail that would be built in Mott Haven.

The city is considering opening the facility in an NYPD tow yard at the corner of East 141st Street and Concord Avenue as part of a plan to gradually move inmates from Rikers Island and eventually close the jail.

The planned location is in front of dozens of homes and is blocks away from several schools, including the Academic Leadership Charter School and Young Leaders Elementary.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the proposal along with plans to renovate three existing facilities as part of a campaign to create smaller and safer jails citywide.

But some have already shown anger toward the plans, saying the Bronx has become a hub for new businesses and developments, and placing inmates in the area would be a step back.

Bronx Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. is part of the opposition, saying that he is frustrated with the mayor's lack of communication when it comes to opening new jails. He also says a jail in his district needs to shut down.

One jail in particular, the Vernon C. Bain Center, has been an eyesore for the community of Hunts Point. It originally opened in the 1990s to help with the overflow of inmates from Rikers and has remained open since then.

"If he would've met with all Bronx elected officials before he wrote out that plan, we would've had a discussion as to what would've happened with the Vernon C. Bain Center," says Salamanca. "And there would've been proper discussions in terms of how do you roll out; how do you start closing down the smaller jails before you start planning on building other jails in the Bronx."

Some residents supported the plan, saying that they understood the issue of congestion in the city, and would be fine with the proposal as long as appropriate security measure were in place.

If the jail ends up being built, it would be the third within a three-mile radius.

The plan is not set in stone, and local officials like Councilman Salamanca hope to sit down with the mayor to discuss a better location to build this jail as the city continues to plan and work on closing down Rikers Island.

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