While southeast Queens won’t be getting a new police precinct, a new community center is on its way

REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

The new city budget deal announced Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council put a pause on plans to build a new police precinct in southeast Queens. 

The funds previously allocated to build the new 116th Precinct in Rosedale have been diverted to fund a new Roy Wilkins Recreation Center in Jamaica, according to the mayor.  

The precinct, which was slated to serve Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Brookville and Laurelton, was allocated $70 million in the city’s 2019 budget. The money will instead go towards the “young people,” the mayor said, by way of a new community center in Roy Wilkins Park. 

“This is real redistribution, this is taking resources and putting them where they are needed most with a particular focus on our young people,” de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday. “It fits what we have been trying to do for years.” 

Prior to Tuesday’s budget deal – which won’t be finalized until after a City Council vote late Tuesday evening – the NYPD said it was looking forward to the creation of the new precinct.

“We are looking forward to being able to fulfill the promise that was made to this community for a larger police presence,” the NYPD said in a statement. “We know how important having cops in the community is.”

The neighborhoods that would have been covered by the 116th Precinct are currently being policed by the 105th Precinct – the fifth largest precinct in the city, covering 354 miles of roadway – which has set up a satellite office on North Conduit Avenue next to the Rosedale Long Island Rail Road station. The satellite precinct has been in operation at a limited capacity since 2007.

Before the precinct was nixed by Tuesday’s budget deal, Joseph Esposito, the former chief of department for the NYPD, had his doubts about the future of the capital project amid constant calls to cut the NYPD’s budget. 

“I don’t see it happening in this city for the next few years,” Esposito said. “I don’t see the 116th materializing any time in the near future.”

The 116th Precinct was approved by Community Board 13 in October 2018. City Councilman Donovan Richards — who will likely become Queens’ next borough president, as he leads his four challengers after last week’s Democratic primary — was an early supporter of the project, touting his accomplishment of securing “$70 million to fulfill the community’s 40-year dream of a new police precinct in Southeast Queens” on his City Council website. 

Richards did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

In its 2019 statement of community district needs and budget requests, Community Board 13 cited youth and children’s services as one of its three most pressing needs, citing the fact that “there is no community center in QCB 13 for our young people to socialize and exercise.” The Roy Wilkins Recreation Center will not fulfill that need, as it’s located within Community Board 12’s district.

Community Board 13 did not respond to request for comment.