Metro

NYC Mayor Eric Adams shanks feds over Rikers takeover, insists closure plan is moving forward despite delays

There’ll be no get out of jail free card for the city’s troubles with Rikers Island.

Mayor Eric Adams tried to slam the door shut Tuesday on two prospects for the infamous lockup: its closure by 2027 and a takeover by the feds.

Adams insisted he was “not concerned at all” ahead of a Manhattan court hearing about a federal receiver potentially taking control of Rikers, suggesting the US government can’t even run its own jails properly.

“It’s definitely not a model of what prisons should look like,” he said a news conference.

But Hizzoner dropped his shank of snark when talking about the increasingly costly plan to close Rikers.

Mayor Eric Adams mocked the prospect of a federal takeover of Rikers Island. G.N. Miller/New York Post

He insisted the city was making strides on the scheme — now estimated at $15.6 billion, roughly twice the original ballpark — to replace a shuttered Rikers with four smaller jails in every borough but Staten Island.

City Hall officials recently met with Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, no relation to the mayor, to discuss the plan’s timetable and cost, he said.

“We want to close Rikers, we all do,” Eric Adams said.

The trouble, as spelled out by Adams and City Hall officials, comes down to timing as the soonest one of the borough jails will be completed would be 2029 under current deals.

The notorious lockup is slated to close in 2027. AP

Adams has repeatedly, if vaguely, raised doubts about Rikers closing by the deadline imposed by the City Council in 2019 after a push from his predecessor Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Advocates and many lawmakers contend conditions in the jail are beyond fixing and the facility must be shuttered as soon as possible.

The project’s cost, originally pegged at $8.7 billion, has since ballooned as officials grappled with a two-year delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic and troubles with contractors, he said.

“I just want to add one more thing the cost has almost doubled… and we did not have the bond capacity to even fund the construction until we got the state budget passed,” said Camille Joseph Varlack, the mayor’s chief of staff.

A federal judge urged city officials to keep improving conditions at Rikers Island. AP

Demolition for the Brooklyn-based jail has been completed and construction is underway, with an end date of 2029, said Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi.

Contracts for jails in The Bronx and Queens are with the Comptroller’s office and have construction end dates in 2031, Joshi said.

Those contracts are worth nearly $3 billion for The Bronx jail and almost $4 billion for the facility in Queens, according to city records.

The process for a Manhattan jail is restarting after a bidder pulled out, Joshi said.

Advocates and many lawmakers contend conditions in the jail are beyond fixing and the facility must be closed as soon as possible. AFP via Getty Images

Adams’ insistence that the closure plan is moving forward came right before city Department of Correction officials and a federal watchdog huddled in a Manhattan courtroom for a hearing about he feds potentially taking over the troubled jail.

Ultimately, the nearly two-hour court hearing mainly dealt with setting a schedule.

Oral arguments over the potentially momentous decision will unfold Sept. 25, Judge Laura Swain ruled.

She urged the city to keep improving conditions on Rikers while the litigation drags out.

“Rikers Island jails have for too long been plagued by violence and chaos,” she said.

“Every day continues to carry an unacceptable risk of harm.”

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