Today, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Jose E. Serrano, tenants of the Diego Beekman Houses and others came together for a rally in opposition to the proposed site of a new jail in South Bronx.
“Make no mistake: Rikers Island is a stain on the soul of this city. We all agree that it must close. But if a new jail is to be built in Bronx, our borough’s interests should not be steamrolled in the land use process,” said the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Any new site for a jail in this borough must be thoroughly vetted, and the people of Bronx and their elected leadership must have a meaningful say in its selection.”
“I haven’t given up our side of the fight,” said Congressman Jose. E. Serrano at the rally. “Mr. Mayor, I join our borough president in saying to you: rethink this. We don’t want it here. We want Diego Beekman to keep growing, and we want our community to keep growing.”
During the rally, Borough President Diaz, Congressman Serrano and others urged the de Blasio administration to support the Diego Beekman Neighborhood Development Plan.
For the past two years, Diego Beekman has painstakingly designed a new neighborhood development plan for the neighborhood, which includes three sites for development with housing, grocery stores, and other civic resources-one of which is the same site as the proposed jail.
The Diego Beekman Neighborhood Development Plan proposes a series of interrelated community-wide and site-specific interventions to help improve the fortunes of the South Bronx, long one of the city’s most economically depressed neighborhoods. The plan was built from the ground up, and incorporates efforts to strengthen existing local institutions in tandem with bringing new resources to the neighborhood–and has garnered lots of positive community support.
“Here at this historic site, steps away from three schools, homeowners, and our 38 building Diego Beekman Housing complex, we are gathered here to tell Mayor de Blasio and the members of the New York City Council that we need real transformational investment,” said Arline Jacobs-Parks, CEO and Vice Chair of the Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association. “We need the Diego Beekman Neighborhood Development Plan. That’s why we are standing together to tell Mayor de Blasio – yes to housing, jobs, fresh food and economic opportunity. No to the jail at this site!”
“I know exactly what this neighborhood looked like when nobody cared about it. And some of the first people to care about it were the men and women who came together to develop the Diego Beekman Houses—to build a community in the midst of the rubble,” said Borough President Diaz at the rally. “The community residents have a plan, one that I support wholeheartedly. This is a great plan, and the city has not even given it real consideration. That is unacceptable.”