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Call For More Howard Beach Security

In the wake of the recent terror plot that targeted the jet-fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and the Buckeye Pipeline that runs primarily through Howard Beach, city, state and federal officials - as well as concerned residents -held a meeting to call for increased Homeland Security funding for camera surveillance and a beefed-up police presence in the area.
“We wanted to reassure people that we are not going to blow up, and that something will be done,” said Community Board 6 (CB 6) District Manager Frank Gulluscio at the Sunday, June 10 forum. “The way lower Manhattan and Wall Street are protected, we should have a similar level because of the high density of people.”
Gulluscio noted that many in Howard Beach consider the orange pipes with a yellow label and black lettering that read WARNING PETROLEUM PIPELINE “part of the landscape.”
According to City Councilmember Joseph Addabbo, the pipeline crosses from Lindenwood southeast to 157th Avenue, over Cross Bay Boulevard, to the other side of Howard Beach, and ends at JFK Airport. He went on to say that along this span are two senior centers, P.S. 232, St. Helen School, the Rockwood Park Jewish Center, P.S. 207, Our Lady of Grace School, P.S. 146 and a day care center.
“We are looking to expand [the cameras found on city sidewalks] to compensate for the lack of police officers,” said Addabbo. “We are also asking for an increase of federal funding and federal attention to this issue.”
Congressmembers Gregory Meeks and Anthony Weiner echoed the call for added vigilance.
“I am calling for increased federal resources from the department of Homeland Security to complement the ongoing security efforts of the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey at JFK,” said Meeks. “Such resources would include increased federal funding out of Homeland Security dollars, as well as federal law enforcement police patrolling the fuel farms and working with the Port Authority Police Department who has primary jurisdiction at New York’s airports to better protect lives, property and commerce in and around JFK Airport.”
“We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Adam Hicks, Port Authority spokesperson.
“Security has always been a priority,” he continued, pointing out that the agency recently announced plans for the construction of a $138 million “virtual fence” to surround the airport.
Modeled after that at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, the fence would utilize technology such as motion detectors, sensors, radar, and thermal imaging.
Despite the plans, many residents feel less than safe, especially now.
“I think it was awful that they put the actual map of the pipeline in the paper,” said Stacy Ricci, 38, who lives in Howard Beach. “Now, everybody knows where it [the pipeline] is if they want to blow it up.”
Others complained that, in the post 9/11 era of “If you see something, say something,” calls of suspicious behavior to 3-1-1 have gone unheeded.
“Residents saw suspicious cars and people taking pictures of the airport runways in a Hamilton Beach park,” noted Gulluscio. “When they called 3-1-1, they were told to call the local (106th Precinct). This is a federal issue.”

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