Rendering Courtesy of Dattner Architects
Rendering of the now canceled 116th Precinct stationhouse.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The highly anticipated new borough precinct—the 116th—will instead become a community center, thanks to the recent adopted City budget that slashed nearly $1 billion from the City Police Department.
Back in May 2018, Southeast Queens civic leaders and elected officials celebrated the City Council’s vote to approve a zoning amendment to secure the site of the stationhouse for the new 116th Precinct.
“It’s a big day for Southeast Queens,” City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said in 2018.
According to Richards, the amendment established a C1-3 district within the existing R3-2 district, allowing the new precinct’s stationhouse to be located at 242-20 North Conduit Ave. in Rosedale. The 105th Precinct Satellite currently operates out of that address.
In 2016, the City secured a $70 million capital plan allocation to create a new precinct in order to reduce 105th Precinct response times and expand coverage for the growing neighborhoods of Southeast Queens. The new command would have been crafted out of the southern portions of the 105, and would have served the communities of Laurelton, Rosedale, Brookville and Springfield Gardens. According to the administration, the precinct would have addressed an increase in the area’s population and requests for law enforcement services.
According to the NYPD, of the 77 precincts that cover the five boroughs, the 105 ranks fifth in both square-mileage and population. It boasts more than 350 miles of roadway.
“People in this community worked for a long, long time for this change—30 to 40 years, in fact. And it is a credit to them,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in 2018. “I always say that real change comes from the grassroots. It is a credit to them that they believed this could and should happen and this day has come.”
Richards was singing a different tune last week.
“I think we should be doing much more preventative work and think of ideas to make sure you don’t need to build a precinct,” he told Spectrum News NY 1.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who submitted an expense and capital budget recommendation to create the 116th Precinct back in 2015, was dismayed by news of the cancellation.
“The recently adopted New York City Fiscal Year 2021 budget contained significant reductions to the NYPD. My office understands and acknowledges these changes as we remain hopeful about the City’s promise to immediately curtain inequities, invest in low-resource neighborhoods, and improve police-community relations throughout New York City,” Katz said in a statement. “However, the cancellation of the previously approved 116th NYPD Precinct goes against generations of local community advocacy for improvements in response times and public safety resource allocation in Southeast Queens. The approval of the new stationhouse several years ago came on the heels of staunch support from the people off Rosedale, Laurelton, Brookville, and Springfield Gardens, who have long advocated for an additional proactive presence to address community concerns.
“Based on the facts,” Katz concluded, “I urge the City to reconsider and keep that funding in the capital budget, so that the precinct that is greatly desired by the surrounding communities can be made reality.”