By Madina Toure
Concerns about the NYPD’s plans to lease a tow pound in College Point were raised by Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty at a land-use hearing hosted by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
The NYPD and the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services submitted an application to lease a privately owned property for its boroughwide tow pound and citywide Quartermaster operations concerning supplies and equipment for NYPD personnel at 31-22 College Point Blvd.
The property owner, Ares Printing & Packaging, is leasing the property to the NYPD for cars towed for violations.
The owners of Ares Printing could not be reached for comment.
Kelty said the owners were initially supposed to move their operations to the area from Brooklyn but decided against it due to the costliness of developing the property.
He questioned why the city wanted to lease the property for the next 20 years, stating that he is “resentful” of the agreement and that it seems like an investment for the owner rather than an active business in the area.
“If I wanted to bring in private business and bring business back over here, why would I want to lock the property for 20 years?” Kelty said.
At the end of June, CB 7 voted 29-14 in favor of keeping the tow pound in College Point for 20 years.
Some board members said the Police Department has been good to the area, but others said the tow pound exceeds fair share criteria, a citywide policy that bans overburdening one district with too many city services.
When Katz asked Kelty why the board voted “yes,” he said the members were not aware of other possible uses for the property.
“The board people didn’t hear that,” he said.
The NYPD agreed to get rid of the tow pound in 2009 in exchange for the Police Academy and relocate the tow pond to Maspeth. However, the plan was scrapped due to the Kosciuszko Bridge renovation.
He also expressed concerns about who would be paying taxes on the property. In addition, he said the Police Department would be towing cars in the area, creating another cost for the NYPD.
Dale Lazerson, who represented the NYPD at the hearing, said the city would only pay the real estate taxes on the property in the event that the owner is unable to do so.
“Unless this property is exempt or has tax abatement, then the owner is responsible to pay the real estate taxes,” Lazerson said. “The owner will pay those real estate taxes and right now, the structure of this deal is that the city will participate in contributing to those taxes vis-à-vis the structure of the lease.”
She also said the NYPD would be responsible for all interior repairs and maintenance while the owner would be responsible for the structural integrity of the property.
“The NYPD has a very specific operation here and the integrity of that operation…must be maintained so there will be a coordination and some shared responsibilities for the exterior maintenance and repair,” she said.
At the hearing, Katz said that she would issue her opinion in a few weeks.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour