A plan to close the notorious prison on New York’s Rikers Island could free up land for a long-needed expansion of LaGuardia International airport.
New York mayor Bill DeBlasio recently announced his support for a proposal to close the prison within the next decade. If that happens, the 167-hectare island – which sits just north-west of the airport, and is separated from LaGuardia’s airfield only by a narrow channel – could become the site of a new runway and a 139,400 sqm terminal, according to a plan unveiled by the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform.
News site AM New York has reported that the commission estimated that the Rikers site would increase LaGuardia’s capacity by 40 per cent, allowing the airport to serve an additional 12 million passengers annually.
The commission strongly endorsed closing the Rikers Island prison, calling it “a stain on our great city” and “a 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem”. The LaGuardia airport expansion was one of two proposed reuses of the island in the report; the other would see Rikers become the site of a new wastewater treatment plant and composting facility.