By Kelsey Durham

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) this week applauded the dedication of Borough President Melinda Katz after she named the creation of a new police precinct to cover the northeastern part of the borough as one of her top budget priorities for the 2015 fiscal year.

The creation of a 116th Precinct was included in a list of budget priorities that was unanimously approved by the Borough Board at a budget meeting earlier this month. The new precinct would split the 105th Precinct in half and take over the southeastern part of the area to alleviate some of the stress.

The 105th is one of the largest precincts in the city, covering Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Bellerose, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park and Floral Park. Lawmakers and community members have fought in the past for funding that would divide the precinct’s responsibilities to reduce response times over such a large coverage area.

“The sheer size of the 105th Precinct and the lack of resources that all the precincts in New York City are currently facing presents a very good case for the creation of a new police precinct to better address the rising population in Queens,” said Avella, who has been pushing for the split since his time in the City Council.

Avella introduced legislation in 2011 that called for the division of the 105th and 109th precincts, which covers the northern areas of the borough in Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechurst and Bay Terrace. His bill would have split the 109th into two precincts, one dedicated strictly to Flushing and another to take over the remaining area.

Though the NYPD is a city-run agency, Avella’s office said the Senate does have the power to amend its administrative code and call for the split, but the bill would most likely need support from the City Council before being voted on in the Senate.

While the item included in Katz’s budget priorities speaks only of the 105th, unlike Avella’s legislation, the senator said he is still pleased to see that the proposal is finally making progress among other city leaders.

“Although the 105th Precinct has been doing a great job at addressing the public’s concerns, it is responsible for patrolling an area that encompasses nearly twice the square mileage of other precincts,” he said. “Obviously, this places an enormous strain on the 105th to be able to handle every emergency and non-emergency complaint that is reported.”

Avella’s bill is currently waiting to be heard in the Senate Cities Committee, and he thanked Katz and the Borough Board for showing their support and helping to drive an issue that he says the community has supported for several years.

“It is time for the city to follow suit in recognizing the dire need for additional resources for our local precincts to better address safety concerns in the borough of Queens,” Avella said.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.

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