An ominous welcome, "Welcome to the Vernon C. Bain center visit house," blares across a parking lot in Hunts Point where we met the local councilman on a windy afternoon this week.
"This barge doesn't belong here," said City Councilman Rafael Salamanca of the Bronx. "It should have been closed down years ago."
Salamanca represents the south Bronx, and the floating jail is his territory. Six hundred and twenty-five inmates are inside.
"When they rolled out their plan of opening these smaller jails, my first response was, well, what about the barge?" Salamanca said.
The jail, commonly referred to as the barge, is a sticking point for Bronx officials.
As the city looks to shut down Rikers Island and site a new jail in the borough, Bronx officials say the city has to shut down the barge first. That’s the deal.
When asked if he would support a new Bronx jail if the barge is shut down, Salamanca said, "If the barge is shut down, we will. I know I will speak to my community. Depending on the location. What's important here is we need to find the right location."
Currently, the administration has picked out a tow lot for the new Bronx jail. It's about three miles away from the barge.
Sources tell NY1 the mayor has committed to Bronx officials he would shut down the barge, a promise he made at a closed-door meeting at Gracie Mansion last month.
When asked if he believes the mayor will shut it down, Salamanca said, "I have to take him at his word on it. But I'll believe it more when i see something in writing and I see a timeline and I see a plan, and they have failed to give us that at the moment."
The barge has been here since the early '90s, a response to the exploding inmate population on Rikers Island.
Officials in the '90s used barges as city jails because the thought was you could convert them faster than building a new facility on land. Of course, the officials in the Bronx now have never seen this facility as an appropriate quick fix.
So far, the mayor has not said anything publicly about closing the barge, despite his closed-door commitment to Bronx elected officials, something Salamanca now wants in writing.
"They have the capacity to move these inmates out of the barge and give this land back to the community," he said.