When residents speak up, Captain Kevin Nicholson listens.
Nicholson, the relatively new captain over at the 49th Precinct, said that he was already aware of problems with the appearance of the precinct, which were raised at a September 16 meeting of Community Board 11.
At that time, Joe Reda, a member, spoke up about the outside appearance of the precinct headquarters, noting that a grassy area to the left of the main entrance has become muddy and slovenly due to police cars parking there at all sorts of angles.
Joe Thompson, member from the Olinville Committee and also president of the 49th Precinct Community Council, confirmed that it has been a problem. “People are complaining that it looks like a mess,” he said.
However, Thompson was careful to preface this by going over the many changes Nicholson has instituted to the delight of the community.
Now, he’s in the process of addressing concerns again, in a timely manner.
“All the wheels are in motion to improve the issue,” Nicholson said.
Those wheels include getting an NYPD architect to come and evaluate the space, which is required before the precinct can move forward with any plans to pave over the area, which Nicholson said is the ultimate goal.
Nicholson noted that although he wishes it could, the process cannot get any faster, because the precinct has no landscaper. He also noted that the patch of grass in question is just as puzzling and troublesome to the 49th Precinct officers as it is to the community.
“This is the only place in Bronx County where they built the precinct with grass out front but no one to maintain it. We have no one to mow it, and it’s been that way since 1984,” he said.
Thus the police vehicles park there not only due to lack of spaces, but because there’s no other worthwhile use for that parcel of land anyway.
In addition to paving over the area and drawing neat parking lines, Nicholson has demanded that the precinct be power-washed immediately.
These steps will not be cheap, and luckily, Nicholson and the precinct have some help. Councilman Jimmy Vacca has just allocated a $250,000 grant to the 49th Precinct, specifically for interior and exterior remodeling.
“I wanted to provide the grant because since the precinct has been open, there’s not been a modernization there,” said Vacca.
Vacca said that part of the grant will indeed go toward the process of paving over the messy area to the left of the entrance. “What people see when they enter the precinct is important,” he added.
In the meantime, as he cuts through administrative red tape and awaits approval for repaving, Nicholson joked, “If a resident wants to come mow the lawn for me, hey, that would be great.”