Rikers renovations could cost over $30M, despite plans to shut down
The city hopes to shut down Rikers Island in phases over the next 10 years, but still faces costly renovations
By Stephen Rex Brown
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — As Mayor de Blasio pursues his ambitious plan to shut down Rikers Island, the city has committed to renovations of the troubled jail that could cost $50 million.
Documents obtained by the Daily News through a Freedom of Information Law request, as well as information from the Independent Budget Office, reveal the Department of Correction estimates of the cost of bringing Rikers Island into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The act requires disabled inmates have equal access to services, programs, activities and accommodations.
Paperwork dated Jan. 4, 2017 estimates it will cost roughly $30 million to bring just the visiting areas of Rikers Island up to snuff.
A July 2018 document estimates that ADA renovations to the central visit building at Rikers, the Benjamin Ward Center, will cost $410,000.
Separately, DOC has allocated $50 million for several ADA-related projects over the next three years, according to Paul Lopatto, an analyst at the Independent Budget Office.
In August, the city signed a deal with federal prosecutors in Manhattan to complete “hundreds of architectural modifications” to Rikers, as well as provide an array of accommodations for disabled inmates over the next six years.
Correction officials were initially not keen to disclose the hefty price tags. When the Daily News reported on the agreement with the feds, a DOC spokesman said it was “too early” for an estimate of costs.
“We are committed to giving people with disabilities equal access to services — and to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act — because it is the right thing to do,” DOC spokesman Peter Thorne said.
The city hopes to shut down Rikers Island in phases over the next 10 years. The project, which will replace the island jail complex with borough facilities, has a $13.9 billion price tag and has been met with community opposition.
“Speaking generally, large capital projects tend to take longer than originally planned. They are not usually under budget,” Lopatto said.