Can Rikers Island be reinvented with green infrastructure?

As the de Blasio administration pursues an ambitious plan to shutter and replace Rikers Island, questions linger over what will become of the infamous island, and how it could be transformed from a blight on the city’s criminal justice system into a beacon for environmental justice.

Green space, renewable energy, and relocating a wastewater treatment plant from Hunts Point have emerged as possibilities for altering the island’s legacy from incarceration to infrastructure. The Regional Plan Association (RPA)—which sponsored Friday’s panel discussion at The New School (moderated by Alyssa Katz, the deputy editor of THE CITY), along with the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and the Center for New York City Affairs—has conducted independent analysis on what could be achieved by freeing up Rikers Island. The group hosted the event to get “this on people’s radar” and jumpstart “a community-centered process that begins digging into questions of feasibility” sooner rather than later, according to Moses Gates, an urban planner with RPA.

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