The fourth largest public park in New York City and the police officers who patrol it deserve modern facilities, according to elected officials and residents.
State Senator Jose Peralta, Congressman Joseph Crowley and Assemblyman Francisco Moya stood in front of the 110th Precinct stationhouse in Elmhurst on Thursday and called on the NYPD to create a satellite office for the precinct at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The park attracts about seven million visitors every year and is the fourth largest park in the city, according to the Parks Department.
According to NYPD statistics, there were 48 serious crimes reported at the park last year, including eight felony assaults and seven robberies. The park, which spans 897 acres, is home to Citi Field, the U.S. Open, the Queens Museum, the Queens Zoo, Queens Theater in the Park and the New York Hall of Science.
“Flushing Meadows Park is our own jewel, one of the biggest parks in NYC and of course our own backyard,” Peralta said. “[This satellite office] will go a long way in improving the quality of life and improving safety for park goers and visitors.”
Central Park has its own precinct, which was renovated in 2013 for $51 million, Peralta added. It is smaller than Flushing Meadows-Corona Park by 54 acres, according to a 2013 Parks Department survey.
In a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, the officials also argued that a 10-minute ride to the park usually doubles during rush hour. A satellite office would cut travel time and discourage people from committing crimes in the park, they said.
The officials are also asking Cuomo and de Blasio to help fund the complete renovation of the existing 110th Precinct stationhouse, which hasn’t seen major upgrades since its inauguration in January 1940. The building has also received several violations from the Department of Buildings, including low-pressure boiler violations and a 2005 complaint stemming from the crumbling of the building’s facade onto the sidewalk.
Peralta said the building needs a top-to-bottom renovation, including infrastructure upgrades and wi-fi. Moya, who lives two blocks away from the precinct and grew up in the neighborhood, said parking is also a major issue for the precinct. He said residents allow officers to park in the driveways around the station house because they want police presence in their neighborhood.
“It’s a really expansive precinct with very limited resources,” Moya said. “When we talk about a modern police department, probably the greatest police department in all of the world, we need to make sure that we can give them a 21st century police precinct that will bring them the tools that they need to protect our communities.”
Christian Cassagnol, district manager of Community Board 4, said the board has been requesting repairs to the station house for three decades. He, along with Lucy Schilero, the chair of the public safety and homeland security committee for Community Board 4, have urged elected officials to fund the renovation and installation of a satellite office.
Cassagnol noted that there are almost 300 uniformed and civilian personnel tasked with potecting residents in the 75 year old building.
“I must emphasize that it is counter-intuitive to house those tasked with our safety and well being in a building as dilapidated and potentially unsafe as a structure before us today,” Cassagnol said.
The $70 million needed for these two projects would come from money the state has acquired from settlements, Peralta said. New York State has $5.4 billion in settlement money acquired from reaching settlements with banks such as BNP Paribas, which violated U.S. Sanctions, and tobacco companies.
Much of that money will be used to fund large-scale construction projects across the state. Queens officials argue that $70 million is a very small piece of the funds and that Cuomo should make it a line item in the upcoming year’s budget.
“It’s time when the city coffers are flushed,” Crowley said. “It’s not always the case, but right now it is.”