3/15/18: Updates on this Fort Totten article:
The corrections academy (if it gets built) is going up on property owned by the Fire Department.. They are also looking to build a parking garage on the site, to handle both Fire Department and Corrections Department vehicles. Both properties will be built in the old unused Fire Dept. building behind the soccer field opposite parks headquarters. Our group The Friends Of Fort Totten Parks is against this.
The actual jail site will be built behind the Queens Court House where there was a corrections facility jail in the past.
Thank you Joe for the update.
Mayor’s Rikers Island plan will re-open jail at the Kew Gardens Queens Detention Center
By Angela Matua / [email protected] / Wednesday, February 14, 2018 / 3:15 PM
The city just announced that they are one step closer to closing Rikers Island for good.
In March 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he would begin a 10-year process of shutting down Rikers Island, and last month, the George Motchan Detention Center was identified as the first of nine jails to close.
Now, the mayor has reached an agreement with the City Council to house 5,000 inmates in existing jail facilities in four boroughs. As part of the plan, the mayor said the jail population, which currently stands at about 8,705, would need to be reduced to 5,000 to so that community-based facilities could more easily accommodate people.
The four locations, which include the Queens Detention Center at 126-01 82nd St. in Kew Gardens, will now go through a single public review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), where public hearings and recommendations will be provided by the Community Boards, Borough Presidents, City Council and City Planning Commission.
The existing borough facilities only have the capacity to hold 2,300 people so the proposed facilities will have to be renovated, expanded or in the case of the Bronx, create a new site at 320 Concord Ave. in Mott Haven. Keeping jails near court houses is more convenient for Department of Corrections staff and families of inmates, the plan argues.
“This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island,” de Blasio said. “In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that’s smaller, safer and fairer. I want to thank these representatives, who share our vision of a more rehabilitative and humane criminal justice system that brings staff and detainees closer to their communities.”
The city has chosen Perkins Eastman as its vendor, which was tasked with identifying sites and with creating a master plan with recommendations for how to maximize capacity and design jails that meet the needs of inmates, staff and communities. They will also take charge of the public engagement process and conduct environmental reviews.
“The reopening of the Queens Detention Center not only makes sense but is the right thing to do,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents Kew Gardens. “This proposal restores the center back to its original purpose and ensure that Queens’ borough-based jail facility is located in our civic center, close to our courts. This smaller facility will bolster the safety for our Department of Correction staff, will create an environment that is more conducive to rehabilitation and will save taxpayer dollars on transportation costs.”
Applications for city certification can be submitted as soon as the end of 2018 and the design process can begin as early as summer 2019.
The125 White St. and the Brooklyn Detention Center at 275 Atlantic Ave. Staten Island is the only borough not included in the plan. JustLeadershipUSA remaining locations include the Manhattan Detention Center at, an organization behind the #CloseRikers campaign, slammed the mayor for not including the borough in his community-based jail system.
“The mayor’s plan also contains a glaring omission: any mention at all of Staten Island,” said Monica Novoa, spokesperson for JustLeadershipUSA. “The people who’ve been trapped at Rikers and their families know that solutions must include all neighborhoods in the city. But this mayor continues to send a message to Staten Island families that their incarcerated loved ones don’t matter.”
City urged to ‘immediately abandon’ plans for Corrections facility at Bayside’s Fort Totten
By Suzanne Monteverdi, [email protected], Thursday, January 25, 2018, 10:00 AM
Bayside should not be the site of a proposed Department of Corrections (DOC) training facility, according to two lawmakers.
Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and Councilman Paul Vallone are the latest local leaders to speak out against the DOC plan to bring its training academy to Fort Totten in the Bay Terrace section of the neighborhood. The agency is currently working with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) on a feasibility study for jail site.
Community Board 7 first raised concerns with the proposal at a general meeting in October 2017, where FDNY officials stopped by to share plans to construct a wind turbine in the southeast portion of the fort. While board members were initially open to the proposal, the mood changed when board member Chuck Apelian announced he received word the DOC is actively considering Fort Totten for its training academy.
Remarks made by former DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte in May 2017 confirmed the agency’s interest in the site. The city has allocated $100 million for the new training academy.
Braunstein called the city’s desire to further develop Fort Totten “outrageous.”
“Recently, Community Board 7 notified my office that DOC was considering a facility at Fort Totten,” he said. “Upon receiving this information, my requests to various city agencies have failed to result in any substantive information. This is despite the fact that the city of New York has been considering this proposal as far back as 2015.”
The lawmaker also recently received an anonymous mailer that included a copy of the city Fire Department’s “Agency Training Operations and Planned Re-Development At Fort Totten, Queens” report, dated Sept. 26. Should the DOC plan move forward at the Fort, two buildings near the the soccer fields/old parade grounds would have to undergo renovation and demolition work to accommodate the new facility, according to the document. Bus parking for students and a 180-space, below-grade parking facility for DOC instructors and administrators would also be built.
The city has “moved aggressively” over the last two years to explore whether the expansion is feasible, the report said. “It is absolutely unacceptable that a proposal of this magnitude was not shared with elected officials and the community board for over two years,” Braunstein said. “Given the lack of transparency and absence of public input, I call on Mayor de Blasio to immediately abandon any plans for a DOC facility at the Fort Totten campus.”
Vallone said the city’s move was “gravely concerning.”
“Fort Totten’s location is nestled in a small residential community that lacks the infrastructure, public transportation and accessibility for a development of this magnitude,” he said. Fort Totten was formally an active U.S. Army installation and is currently used by the U.S. Army Reserve, NYPD and FDNY. Certain portions are designated public park areas.
Earlier this month, state Senator Tony Avella also raised concerns about the city’s plans for the site. In a letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the lawmaker called for increased transparency. He also questioned whether DOC’s interest in Fort Totten pertained to the city’s move to create neighborhood-based jail sites.
A DOC spokesperson told QNS the Fort Totten feasibility study is still in the works and “does not include plans for a new jail.”