Civic leaders say 111th Precinct needs more officers

By Ayala Ben-Yehuda

The 111th Precinct is dangerously short of police officers and the community must press the Bloomberg administration for more police to combat crime, civic leaders told Monday’s Community Board 11 meeting.

The board also rejected a rezoning proposal and one-way street conversions in Bayside and Little Neck at the meeting at MS 158 in Bayside.

Board Chairman Jerry Iannece said that contrary to a recent Daily News report in which an NYPD spokesman claimed the precinct had 139 officers, the 111th actually only had between 102 and 106 uniformed police.

“We’ve had a (crime) spike and they can’t deal with it,” Iannece said of the 111th Precinct, which covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens and part of Auburndale. “We’re not getting our fair share.”

Sean Walsh, Queens Civic Congress president and a Douglaston resident, said Queens accounted for 25 percent of the felony complaints in the city but only 20 percent of the police officers.

“Where were the police officers that we were supposed to have?” asked Walsh, citing the “Safe City Safe Streets” program that raised property taxes to pay for more officers.

Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner said the “meager” attendance at a meeting with police last March to discuss staffing issues at the 111th Precinct had sent the message that the community was apathetic.

Feiner proposed that civic, political and education leaders rally for a June 11 meeting with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to coincide with the Police Academy graduation, when new officers could be assigned to the 111th.

In other news, the board rejected a proposal by the City Planning Commission to rezone 58-37 through 58-43 Francis Lewis Blvd. from a one-family residential to a commercial zone.

The site is home to a grandfathered real estate office and a vacant lot in which the realtor and owner of the lot, Lawrence Avroch, would like to build a two-story office building with 12 parking spaces.

Avroch and his engineer, Sol Korman, contended the undeveloped lot remained full of weeds and rats because it was unsuitable for a house, given its location between a large medical building and real estate office.

Some board members were concerned that the conversion would allow disruptive commercial construction in the future and would extend a commercial overlay onto neighbors’ properties behind it.

“We should not be swept along with this immoral tide,” said board member Frank Skala.

The board turned down a proposal to convert 45th Avenue between Francis Lewis Boulevard and 202nd Street into a one-way either eastbound or westbound.

Neighbors on 45th Avenue feared that an eastbound direction would encourage more drivers to use their street to get to Northern Boulevard, but some board members said a westbound direction would disrupt traffic flow.

The board also voted to reject changing 60th Avenue between Marathon Parkway and 246th Place to a one-way westbound street next to Little Neck’s PS 221.

Robert Calores, a PTA representative, said 320 people from the school had signed a petition supporting the change after ticket blitzes and meetings had failed to solve “a recurring dangerous situation” in front of the school.

Parents often double-parked on the street while picking up or dropping off their children, causing congestion and forcing cars to pass on the wrong side of the street, he said.

“People don’t listen,” Calores said. “Nothing seems to help.”

A board committee had recommended rejection of the one-way switch because it would not solve congestion problems, said board member Steven Newman.

Earlier in the night, the board approved the extension of a variance to an auto repair shop at 42-42 Francis Lewis Blvd., which had been in operation since 1957 and had stopped selling gas in 1996.

At the start of the meeting, Iannece said the Q27 and Q31 buses would be rerouted because of the 47th Avenue sewer construction project from Hollis Court Boulevard to 58th Avenue, Francis Lewis Boulevard and 53rd Avenue.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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