Petition to Create a Renewable Rikers Island:
New York City plans to close the remaining active jails within the next seven to eight years, freeing up 413 acres of land in District 22 for the first time in more than 85 years. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right historical wrongs while making New York City stronger for the future.
The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, in its A More Just NYC report, recommended using the land for critical environmental infrastructure once the detention centers are demolished. There are few other practical options for this land because of significant underground hazards as well as height limitations.
Dedicating a portion of Rikers for solar energy can possibly create enough power to close nearly a dozen secondary power plants built in New York City since 2000. Nearly all of these facilities are sited in low-income neighborhoods or communities of color, and were constructed despite public opposition. Closing these plants in favor of clean energy can be a major boost to the health of New Yorkers who live near them.
Constructing a wastewater treatment plant on Rikers Island will also benefit neighborhoods in northern Queens, the South Bronx, and Upper Manhattan. Existing waterfront facilities in these communities were built 80 years ago, when New York City had about 1 million fewer residents. The Regional Plan Association estimates more than 200 acres of City-owned land could open up for public use if these plants were to close.
We sign this petition to tell Mayor de Blasio that Rikers Island should be used for resilient infrastructure that improves New Yorkers' lives.
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