The City Island community wants to know more about the Police Department’s change in policy regarding the plan to relocate its firing range from Pelham Bay Park.
The City Island Civic Association, representing one of several communities that hears the rat-tat-tat from the firing range nearby at Rodman’s Neck, has made a request under the state’s Freedom of Information Law requesting information as to how a plan to move the range was scuttled.
Mayor Bloomberg had promised that the range would move to a new police training facility in College Point, Queens during a press conference in 2007, said CICA vice-president Barbara Dolensek.
Then there was an about face. Another CICA board member, John Doyle, asked Police Commissioner William Bratton a direct question on the issue at a Bronx-wide precinct community council meeting in December, and was told that the range at Rodman’s Neck was staying open and would see $150 million in improvements instead, said Doyle.
Since then, the CICA has not received information as to why the original plan was changed after requests for more specific information, board member said.
They have sent still another letter to the NYPD FOIL request division dated Monday, March 9.
“We were extremely disappointed to learn recently of the New York City Police Department’s decision to reverse their planned relocation of firearms training from an open facility in Rodman’s Neck to an enclosed facility in College Point, Queens,” the letter stated. “We wrote a letter to Commissioner Bratton nearly three months ago expressing our disappointment with this decision, as well as with the fact that the information was kept from the public, but we have yet to receive a response.”
The group added: “Decisions that are made in secret and that reverse openly stated declarations are not only misleading but also contribute to the erosion of public support for those in government.”
Doyle, the CICA corresponding secretary, said that the secrecy surrounding this issue was something that is “serious and unnecessary.”
He asked: “What made people in the department decide override in private what was a very public decision?”
Residents of shoreline communities near the range, including Country Club and Edgewater Park, see a dip in their quality of life because of noise from the range, said Doyle, citing his interactions with community members in those neighborhoods. The noise has gotten worse over the years, said Dolensek.
“When I first moved here 40 years ago, there were not so many cops over (at Rodman’s Neck), they didn’t have to certify twice a year, and they didn’t use 9mm (weapons),” said Dolensek. “Now it is very loud.”
Citing what they call the department’s “deafening silence,” the CICA is requesting through FOIL any written documentation related to the change of plans, as well as copies of any environmental or noise studies at the Rodman’s Neck.
The NYPD never fully implemented a sound abatement plan it had agreed upon with the community as a result of a legal action taken years ago, said Dolensek.
Sound abatement was also one of the conditions the police department agreed upon in a deal to get permanent use of Rodman’s Neck, which is in Pelham Bay Park on Eastchester Bay, she said.
“Now all we are asking is to see drawings as to what they have in mind (for sound abatement), and reassure the community that the noise will be severly restricted,” she said.
There are companies that make what are known a noise ‘baffles,’ which are in use at outdoor ranges all over the country, she added.
She believes that there is no reason as to why the NYPD cannot buy or install these baffles for use at Rodman’s Neck.