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Greenpoint Politician Vows to Fight City's Plan for Possible Satellite Jail

By Gwynne Hogan | April 6, 2016 5:22pm
 The city is considering a National Grid site on Maspeth Avenue as a place for a new jail.
The city is considering a National Grid site on Maspeth Avenue as a place for a new jail.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

GREENPOINT — The city's plan for a potential satellite jail on a National Grid lot on Maspeth Avenue will be fought tooth and nail by a local councilman who says his district is already overrun by "burdensome" city facilities like waste transfer stations and homeless shelters.

"I support the move to shut down Rikers," and decrease the jail's population said Antonio Reynoso who represents parts of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood. "[But] my district is not going to be the district where they build this satellite jail."

Reynoso is the latest in a string of City Council members to decry the de Blasio administration's tentative plans for new jails their districts, as DNAinfo earlier reported.

Last week, DNAinfo first reported that the de Blasio administration had quietly begun to explore a number of sites in the outer boroughs as places to build two new jails for inmates transferred from Rikers Island, in a push to shut down the beleaguered facility.

When DNAinfo reported Monday that the National Grid lot in Greenpoint was also being considered by the administration, Reynoso rushed to speak with officials from the mayor's and the speaker's offices, he said.

"They're both telling me that any conversations about that are premature," he said, though the administration didn't deny they were eyeing the Greenpoint lot.

A jail is within permitted uses at the site, although the land would have to go through an extensive public review process before anything could be built there, according to city regulations.

Karen Young, a spokeswoman for National Grid said that the site at 287 Maspeth Ave. holds an "active gas operations facility" that there is "no surplus land." 

"National Grid's ownership of the entire site is required to support current and future operational needs in providing utility service to customers," she said.

In an earlier statement to DNAinfo, a mayoral spokeswoman Monica Klein would not confirm or deny information concerning the sites the administration is considering for new jails.

"While the City continues to examine whether Rikers Island’s closure is feasible, our focus today remains on reform of the correctional system that will make our jails safer now, and into the future— whether at Rikers or elsewhere," Klein wrote.