You are reading

City Council Passes Constantinides’ Renewable Rikers Act, Paves Way for Renewable Energy Hub

Aerial photo of Rikers jail complex (NYCDOC)

Feb. 11, 2021 By Allie Griffin

The New York City Council voted to pass Council Member Costa Constantinides’ ‘Renewable Rikers Act’ Thursday, which moves the city a step closer to reimagining the island without jails.

The act is comprised of two bills sponsored by Constantinides. The first bill transfers control of the island from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) and the second bill directs the city to conduct a feasibility study on the island’s potential to house and store renewable energy sources.

The passage of the Renewable Rikers Act follows legislation passed by the City Council in October 2019 that mandates the city to close the notorious jail complex in coming years. That legislation also requires the city to construct four borough-based jails to replace the complex–one in each borough with the exception of Staten Island.

Constantinides’ first bill passed today by a vote of 37 to 7, with two abstentions. The second bill, regarding a sustainability study, passed by a vote of 42 to 2, also with two abstentions.

The first bill requires every building or facility not actively being used by DOC to be turned over to DCAS over the next six years. DOC will be required to shut down jails on Rikers Island entirely by Aug. 31, 2027.

The second bill requires the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) to study the feasibility of building renewable energy sources and large-scale batteries to store the energy produced on the island. Such a plan would help the city reach its long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuel power plants, Constantinides said.

“These bills will offer the city a pathway to building a hub for sustainability and resiliency that can serve as a model to cities around the world,” he said.

The Renewable Rikers Act will also bring justice to those victimized by a racist criminal system on the island, he added.

“The 413 acres of Rikers Island have, for far too long, embodied an unjust and racist criminal justice system,” Constantinides said.

The two bills were developed with input from community leaders, environmental activists and criminal justice reform advocates, including those formerly incarcerated at Rikers Islands.

Many advocates celebrated the passage of the Renewable Rikers Act Thursday, including members of the Freedom Agenda, an organization comprised of people directly affected by incarceration.

“Today is a historic step in the right direction,” said Darren Mack, Co-Director of Freedom Agenda. “It took courage, commitment, and work to get us to this point; it is going to take a renewal of courage, commitment, and work moving forward towards our goals.”

A number of Queens council members, however, voted against one of the bills. Council Members Robert Holden, Eric Ulrich and Paul Vallone voted against the bill removing DOC control of Rikers Island.

Meanwhile, Council Member I. Daneek Miller abstained from voting on both bills.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Queens Public Library celebrates Black History Month with nearly 150 programs highlighting Black resistance, culture

Feb. 2, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed

Throughout February, Queens Public Library will celebrate “Black Resistance” – the theme of its 2023 Black History Month observance – with nearly 150 comprehensive programs and initiatives, including theater performances, author talks, and art workshops for all ages, spotlighting various aspects of Black heritage, culture and resilience. 

Popular places where you can watch the Big Game in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘Limitless possibility’: BP Richards announces community visioning workshops on redevelopment of Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens Village

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and Empire State Development on Tuesday, Jan. 31, announced the launch of a series of community visioning workshops that will be held to hear input from eastern Queens residents about the redevelopment of the 50-acre Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens Village. 

The first community visioning workshop will be held on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 208 located at 74-30 Commonwealth Blvd. in Glen Oaks.

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.