You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Manhattan groups sue NYC to stop construction of Chinatown jail

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 2/13/2020 Noah Goldberg

The city’s plan to construct a jail in Chinatown routinely neglected community input, including Native Americans concerned about large amounts of human remains in the area of the planned facility, a new lawsuit claims.

The suit, filed by Neighbors United Below Canal and American Indian Community House, claims the city’s plan will cause “irreparable damage to indigenous lands” and that the city failed to adequately reach out to neighborhood organizations and affected residents.

“The work and outreach that’s gone into this lawsuit is work the city should have been doing in the first place," said Jan Lee, who runs Neighbors United Below Canal. “It’s a robust case because we did meaningful outreach to our neighbors and came to realize just how deeply negligent the mayor’s plan was from the very beginning.”

The groups also allege in the suit that the city violated its own land use procedure, in which the City Council must approve projects before they can be built, by changing the proposed location of the Manhattan facility from 80 Centre St. to 124-125 White St. at the last minute. The White St. location is where the borough’s current jail , known as “The Tombs,” stands.

“Although the community was not pleased with the initial proposal to build a new jail structure at 80 Centre Street, the change of location was even worse,” the lawsuit reads, noting that the new plan puts the jail near residences, small retailers and a senior center.

Elderly residents of the Chung Pak center on Baxter St. expressed concerns throughout the planning process that construction could “exacerbate the level of air pollution” and increase noise levels in ways that could harm them.

The city also identified that there is a “moderate to high amount” of Native American remains at the site of the proposed Chinatown jail, but still failed to reach out to the indigenous community, neighborhood advocate Christopher Marte told the Daily News.

The proposed Chinatown jail is one of four facilities the city plans to build for a total of $9 billion in each borough except Staten Island to replace the jail complex at Rikers Island, which is expected to close by 2026. The City Council voted in October to approve the construction.

“Our borough-based jails plan is the culmination of years of collaboration between the City, local elected officials, and the communities they represent," the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said. "We will vigorously defend our work in court as we move forward with our commitment to close Rikers Island and create a justice system is that is smaller, safer, and fairer.“

The Manhattan lawsuit follows a similar one in the Bronx and another planned suit in Queens.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon