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Site Considered for Rikers Island Replacement Is Already Home to 3 Schools

By Nicholas Rizzi | July 14, 2016 5:45pm
 Despite housing three schools and having bids put out to attract new businesses to the location, the city eyed Staten Island's Teleport as a potential site for a jail.
Despite housing three schools and having bids put out to attract new businesses to the location, the city eyed Staten Island's Teleport as a potential site for a jail.
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DNAinfo New York

TRAVIS — A business park identified as a possible spot to house a jail replacing Rikers Island is already home to three schools and is currently trying to attract new businesses.

The 100-acre Teleport site in Travis hosts office buildings, the St. Paul's School of Nursing and two charter schools — the John W. Lavelle Preparatory Charter School and the New Ventures Charter School.

But as recently as March it was on a list of possible sites for the Rikers Island replacement.

The list was part of a study, detailed in a March 9 presentation given to Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris and published exclusively by DNAinfo New York, which looked at completely shutting down Rikers Island and building two new 2,000-bed jails.

The presentation identified two spots on Staten Island, including an 18-acre section of the Teleport. Last year, the city put out a request for proposals for manufacturing businesses to open in the same area.

Despite the presentation, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday the city was not considering building a jail there.

"There is no plan to build a jail anywhere on Staten Island," spokeswoman Monica Klein said.

"As the mayor has said, there are numerous, significant challenges associated with this otherwise laudable concept.

"While the city continues to examine ways to reduce the jail population and is working closely with the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform chaired by Judge Lippman, our focus remains on reform of the correctional system that will make our jails safer right now. Creating a culture of safety in our jails is our top priority."

Klein did not respond to questions about whether the city knew the schools were in the Teleport when officials identified it as a potential location, or about how the other sites were chosen.

In January 2015 the city released the RFP to attract a new tenant to the site for "resilient manufacturing," the Staten Island Advance reported.

"As I have said before, any proposal to site a prison near residential communities in Staten Island is a non-starter. Period," Councilman Steven Matteo, who's district covers Teleport, said in a statement Thursday.

"We have been fighting for decades to preserve the character of our neighborhoods and fighting overdevelopment, and that would include a massive correctional facility," he continued. "As far as the Teleport, I believe an ideal usage of this site would be a business that could unlock its potential and contribute to the growing economic hub on the West Shore."

On Thursday, the city's Economic Development Corporation released a second RFP for the site, this time focused on a 7.5-acre parcel of land for uses including food manufacturing, modular construction, flood defense system fabrication and green energy system manufacturing.

The city touted the potential to develop the Teleport to bring jobs to the West Shore of Staten Island.

"The industrial and manufacturing industry is one of Staten Island’s key economic assets," EDC President Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement about Thursday's RFP. 

"The opportunity to further develop the Teleport campus is a chance to bring more quality jobs to the West Shore and enhance the borough’s position as a growing economic hub."

Representatives of the schools could not be reached for comment and representatives of the Nicotra Group, which owns the buildings on the site that house the schools, said the last they'd heard was that de Blasio had no plans to put the jail on the campus.

-- With reporting by James Fanelli and Jeff Mays.