An open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
You may recall that when you visited Fort Totten and the Bayside Historical Society’s restored Officers’ Club, you were impressed with the uniqueness and beauty of this newest addition to our great parks system.
Fort Totten is special for many reasons, not the least of which is its stunning location on Little Neck Bay and its rich historical significance. At the same time, it is much more than a park.
It is home to the FDNY, which occupies more than a dozen buildings for training and other functions; the NYPD, with highâˆ’security facilities; and the city Parks Department, which contains 50 acres of open space, a Civil War era fort and a visitors’ center.
In addition, there are a number of other organizations that use Fort Totten. They include the BHS in its restored building, for which I helped secure over $2 million in state funds, which houses an educational facility with an extensive archive; the Northeast Queens Nature and Historical Preserve Commission; EMS; a chapel; a public swimming pool and recreation center; an NYPD Kâˆ’9 unit; soccer fields; and numerous other buildings of importance.
To categorize Fort Totten Park as unique would be an understatement.
In 1999, when this 93 acre site was turned over to the city, it was agreed the FDNY would be the custodian, which included entrance gate security. In 2005, Fort Totten Park was officially dedicated with joint management by Parks and the FDNY.
Now we are faced with a problem: Security has been eliminated. The potential for theft and vandalism is more than hypothetical, since even with security buildings have been broken into. Indeed, organizations, including the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, the Friends of Fort Totten Park and the BHS, recently joined with area residents and others who care for this city treasure to protest the removal of security from Fort Totten.
It is critical you direct all three city agencies to coordinate an effective security program at the entrance and throughout the park. We have invested a great deal in state and city money, along with considerable time and energy, to make Fort Totten the invaluable educational, recreational and historical resource it is today.
The presence of vital emergency response assets underscores the importance of properly securing the site. To allow any diminution of what we have achieved would be inexcusable.
I look forward to discussing this with you as soon as possible.