The Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice will meet with members of the community once again in Kew Gardens at 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd., this time at 3 p.m. on March 27 following being certified by the City Planning Commission on Monday to begin the formal public review process, according to sources.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz will meet with community leaders during the invitation only discussion which the administration closed to all press.
Aida Vernon, who serves on the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, expects the mayor’s appearance in Kew Gardens at the upcoming meeting to be yet another perceived example of the administration just going through to motions of the democratic process and to “deflect” concerns.
“The whole process is just disheartening and frustrating,” Vernon said. “No one is really focusing on the community impacts… If you want to call me a NIMBY then call me a NIMBY, but I say not in anyone’s backyard.”
Vernon said the problems between the community and the mayor extend beyond lack neighborhood involvement in the decision-making process and the administration’s previous efforts to close meetings to the press with the heart of the matter being that they waited over a year to assemble a neighborhood advisory committee.
“We should have been involved during the Lippman Commission stage,” Vernon added, referring to the legal team of criminal justice reformers who drafted the plan to reduce the size of population by lower capacity to about 5,000 detainees to be spread out among four boroughs in community jails.
“You’re not hearing from the people because for whatever reason, we don’t count,” Vernon said.
The borough-based jails are designed to offer families and legal counsel greater access to detainees in the system by housing them closer to loved ones and lawyer.
The city released the draft environmental review of the plan for community jails in for borough, except Staten Island which will not have a facility, and the proposal started as a 29-story structure and is now projected to rise 27-stories.
The facility in Kew Gardens will house a high percentage of the women in the system in the city, despite the effort to detain in home boroughs, and will have a maternity ward as well as a nursery.
Though the Planning Commission has approved the proposal, there are still several stages left before the plan gets a green like including a City Council vote.