The city wants to bring a wind turbine and a Corrections Department training academy to Bayside‘s Fort Totten — but not everyone is thrilled with the latter idea.
FDNY officials stopped by the monthly Community Board 7 meeting to share plans to construct a wind turbine in the southeast portion of Fort Totten. However, while the proposal was initially met with positive feedback, news that another city agency may be looking into moving into the site had certain board members rethinking the matter.
At the Oct. 23 meeting, board member Chuck Apelian said he has received word that the Department of Corrections is actively considering Fort Totten as the potential site for a training academy. Apelian called the news “very alarming.”
Fort Totten — formally an active U.S. Army installation in the Bay Terrace section of the neighborhood — is currently used by the U.S. Army Reserve, NYPD and FDNY. Certain portions are designated public park areas.
Apelian made a motion to table the board’s vote on the Fire Department’s plan until details about the proposed academy site were clarified, which passed.
“We’ve had this many times before, where we get half a story from one agency, from another agency,” he said. “Without clarification on what’s happening in Fort Totten right now, and the mayor trying to push different agendas on us, I think it’s unfair for this board to take a position right now.”
Remarks made by former Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte in May confirm the city agency’s interest in the site. After allocating $100 million for a new training academy, Corrections is working with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to do a feasibility study for the use of Fort Totten.
Board 7 Chairperson Gene Kelty said he has sent letters to four city agencies asking for clarification on the matter.
“The only leverage this board has is by somebody in the city of New York wants something from us,” he said. “So by not giving that to them and holding off, they have to come back and talk to us.”
According the fire officials, the wind turbine would be the city agency’s first placed on public land and used as a learning tool. The city agency took a similar approach when installing a new solar power system in recent years.
Trevor Atkinson, a sales manager at Northern Power Systems, said the turbine is “fairly quiet,” and would be located a distance away from any residential homes. The turbine would cost the Fire Department $460,000 of capital funding and take “minimal site work” to install.
“[The turbine] will set a precedent in New York City,” board member Joe Sweeney said.
Sweeney said the turbine would reduce pollution and the agency’s carbon footprint. It would also reduce the agency’s electrical costs.
The board requested that FDNY add an educational component be added into plans for the turbine, giving the community the chance to view the structure and learn about its technology and impact.