Koslowitz reiterates support for Kew Gardens jail
While residents remain opposed to the proposed jail in Kew Gardens, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz insisted that compromises made with Mayor Bill de Blasio will will benefit the community in return for hosting the facility.
Current plans are to house 1,000 inmates in a 20-story jail at 126-02 82nd Avenue starting in 2026. The City Planning Commission voted in favor of the proposal for the four borough-based facilities on September 4.
Community Board 9 recently sent a letter to Speaker Corey Johnson and members of the City Council urging them to vote against the proposal, citing violations of the New York City Charter.
The City Council held a public hearing on the proposal on September 5, and is expected to vote on the plan this week.
Meeting with both Community Board 6 and Community Board 9 last week, Koslowitz shared her feelings on the controversial matter.
“I support the jail,” she said. “Rikers has to be closed, there’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.”
But she also supports a new jail rather than using the former Queens House of Detention Center.
“If you went into that jail, like I’ve gone into, they’re like cages,” she added. “I don’t think you’d even want to put an animal in there.”
Koslowitz said the original 29-story jail was too tall for the community, and told CB6 that the Mayor’s Office agreed to lower the height to 20 stories after she raised concerns.
“That’s a big jump,” she said. “Whether I supported it or not, that jail was happening. That’s why I have to support this, because if I didn’t support this, the mayor could do whatever he wanted.”
Concessions made by the mayor include $8 million in renovations for P.S. 99’s auditorium and gym, as well as a kitchen for the seniors at the Kew Gardens Community Center and eight additional cops for the 102nd Precinct.
“Kew Gardens will be safer,” she said. “I’ve been working very, very hard on this. It’s important to me to make sure the community is not put at risk.
“When I leave, I want a legacy,” Koslowitz added. “I don’t want this to be my legacy. It’s more important for me to make sure that this is done the right way and that’s why I decided I had to support it and make sure it doesn’t become a disaster.”