College Point academy stirs CB 7

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces that a new $1 billion police academy will be built in College Point in 2007.
By Stephen Stirling

The Police Department told Community Board 7 last week that it hopes to speed through the public approval process for a $1 billion new police academy in College Point and break ground by the end of the year — an approach that left community leaders none too pleased.

CB 7 Vice President Chuck Apelian said last Thursday that NYPD officials met with the College Point Corporate Park Task Force and told board members they plan to start the public approval process on its new training facility as early as May.

But Apelian said the NYPD has left the community board out in the cold on the project, only contacting them once since Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the project in 2007.

“I’m not happy with the way they’ve handled themselves. We’ve had no dialogue with the Police Department for more than a year, and now they come and tell us we’re going to certify their plan in May,” Apelian said. “The undertone to this whole thing is that they’re just going to do what they want without any input from the community.”

The new facility would bring NYPD programs such as emergency vehicles and firearms training, which currently take place in the Bronx and Brooklyn — miles from the police academy’s Manhattan site — into one site with 250 classrooms, a field house, a tactical village, facilities to mimic prisoner processing stations and a simulated subway station to permit training in biological, chemical and radiological attacks.

There will be space for 2,000 recruits per year and refresher programs for officers and members of other law enforcement agencies.

The $1 billion project would be situated on a 30−acre site in the College Point Corporate Park near the Whitestone Expressway, bounded by 31st Avenue, College Point Boulevard, 28th Avenue and Ulmer Street.

Apelian said the proposal would require several waivers because it does not align with zoning restrictions in the College Point Corporate Park. Any business entering the Corporate Park that does not conform to the zoning guidelines must get approval from the community board and the Borough Board in order to move ahead with the project.

Apelian said the NYPD told community board members it plans to maneuver around this by using a seldom−used government loophole: mayoral override. The executive power grants Bloomberg the authority to waive certain zoning regulations for a city project.

“So one man gets to decide? I just think it’s despicable,” Apelian said. “It’s just like they don’t care. If something doesn’t change immediately, I’m not even going to hold hearings on it. I’m just going to vote it down.”

Bloomberg’s office did not return calls for comment.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said use of the executive power would be a “disgrace.”

“That would be the epitome of dictator Bloomberg,” he said. “To have that kind of audacity, it’s just unbelievable.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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