CB9 slams EIS findings fo Kew Gardens jail
by Jen Khedaroo
Jul 31, 2019 | 877 views | 0 0 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Community Board 9 is unsatisfied with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the proposal to construct a jail at 126-02 82nd Avenue in Kew Gardens.

Although the initial plan called for 1,500 beds in a 27-story structure, the city has slashed the bed count down to 1,150 because of a move to end cash bail.

But the reduction in inmates isn’t enough for CB9, which recently released its objections to findings made within the DEIS, which was released in March.

CB 9 argued the nearly 300-page document “is written too often in convoluted language,” which they believe is due to the lack of a concrete plan outlined in the ULURP application.

CB 9, in conjunction with the Community Preservation Coalition NYC, argued there is no evidence the proposed jail would be good for business in the area, and that there is potential for depressing property values, contrary to what representatives from the mayor’s office assert.

“We have never seen a real estate ad advertising a jail for violent felons within two blocks of a home and elementary schools as a great draw for future residents,” the board’s response letter stated.

“Quite the contrary, we have already been told by one real estate agent active in Kew Gardens that two potential sales have fallen through and will not be realized until the potential buyers can count on the jail not being present in the Kew Gardens community,” it continued.

The board added that years of construction followed by a jail with hundreds of Department of Corrections employees traveling to the site per shift will cause only add to already congested traffic conditions.

The board added that a plan to add open space for local residents actually includes under-utilized land from Maple Grove Cemetery.

The board also had objections to the analysis of shadows, which the study concluded wouldn’t pose any adverse impacts. Instead, CB9 argued that the shadows could be troublesome for commuters on the Grand Central Parkway, Kew Gardens Interchange, Van Wyck Expressway and Queens Boulevard.

They also took issue with the suggestion that a detailed subway and bus analysis is not warranted.

“Perhaps someone recognized that our subway is jammed and our bus lines are long,” CB9’s letter read. “So it would appear that despite the stated importance of public transportation, the city is not expecting uniformed and non-uniformed staff, nor lawyers, nor medical staff, nor third-party programming aides, nor visitors to the proposed community center space to use public transportation in any significant way.”

The board’s also objected to the height of the proposed jail, which would stand at just over 330 feet. Instead, CB 9 urged the city to consider moving the jail to Hudson Yards or Long Island City.

“One would barely notice another 60 or 70 story building in either Hudson Yards or Long Island City,” the letter read. “And a courthouse installed in one of these high-rise structures would ensure timely arrival of detainees. Both locations are served by public transportation, and in Hudson Yards, the city would have a central location accessible from all boroughs and a location within walking distance from both Grand Central and Penn Stations.”
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