Ongoing community advocacy for sound abatement at a police firing and bomb detonation range in Pelham Bay Park is revving into another gear.
City Island residents, along with other communities around Eastchester Bay, are asking the NYPD to make good on a string of pledges, stretching back to 1993, to construct sound barriers at the police facility at the Rodman’s Neck.
With the news that the firing range would not move to the a police academy in Queens, after Speaker Christine Quinn announced that it would move in 2007, the City Island Civic Association has restarted its decades-long effort to get the department to muffle the ear-piercing gun fire, the leaders said.
The CICA will continue to work with elected officials, but they are also now considering possible legal action, said John Doyle, CICA board member.
“The association is seeking a time frame for the sound baffles to be in operation at Rodman’s Neck, and an estimate as to what the cost would be to fully enclose the range,” said Doyle, who added that the noise is an important regional issue and that when he speaks to residents in places like Country Club and Edgewater Park, it also a concern.
Sandra Cardinali, who has lived near Eastchester Bay in Country Club for 22 years, said that the noise is now louder than when she moved to the community.
“It is louder and it is continuous,” she said, adding that the noise is a nuisance when she is working at her computer or watching television.
“It bothers me that they made promises to leave, and they haven’t,” she said about the range. “They made promises to abate the noise, and they haven’t.”
CICA vice president Barbara Dolensek, a long time advocate on sound abatement at Rodman’s Neck said the lack of progress is extremely frustrating.
“It gets worse and worse and nothing is happening,” said Dolensek, who said that the association was not given any documents by the NYPD when it filed a Freedom of Information Law Request for recent Rodman’s Neck related correspondence.
“If they can baffle the sound, and get rid of 80% of the sound, that would be fine,” she said. “But I don’t know what (NYPD) has in its mind to do, and they apparently don’t plan to tell us.”
A pledge to create a sound barrier at Rodman’s Neck occurred in a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding between then Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin and then Mayor David Dinkins, according to documents obtained on the matter by the Bronx Times. However, despite this not legally binding pledge from Dinkins, and others, the NYPD never installed functional sound abatement equipment at the location, according to CICA board members.
Sound baffling for firing ranges is commonly used to muffle loud gunshots when a range is located near residential areas, said Dolesnek.
According to Ronald Rauch, an Edgewater Park resident who said that he hears the sound of gunfire from the range often at his waterfront home, said that it can be overbearing, especially when it goes on for hours on end and semi-automatic weapons are used.
Many believe the solution to the problem does not have to be costly.
Methods to make the range bearable would only require the installation of sound walls, so that the noise goes up into the air instead of out over the water Rauch said.
Councilman James Vacca said that he is continuing to work with the current mayoral administration on Rodman’s Neck.
A police department spokeswoman stated that the pledges made in 1993 are being met.
“There are sound barriers present, the hours of operation have been significantly curtailed, there are lead remediation and waste removal procedures in place,” she stated. “Rodman’s Neck will be undergoing significant renovation which includes sound baffling.”