Lead level concerns at Rodman’s Neck pistol range

Lead level concerns at Rodman’s Neck pistol range
Budget reveals improvements for Rodman’s Neck

As plans for the complete reconstruction of the Rodman’s Neck range continue to develop, perennial concerns about lead contamination have resurfaced.

Three NYC Department of Corrections officers who were assigned to the NYPD’s Rodman’s Neck pistol range were taken off the job after they tested either high or borderline-high for lead levels, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The DOC areas of the facility where ammunition is stored are being tested and cleaned, said the sources.

To the best of their knowledge, nothing like this has ever occurred before, according to a DOC source.

The DOC uses only a small portion of the range, according to sources.

Barbara Dolensek, City Island Civic Association vice president, said that those living nearby have been concerned for years about levels of lead in the outdoor areas of the range because of how it could affect air and water in nearby communities.

Dolensek, a longtime activist who has also advocates for sound abatement at the range, said that high levels of lead were found at the range in 1989, prompting a lawsuit by a group called Soundwatch and the New York City Coastal Fisherman’s Association in 1992 to get remediation in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.

The lawsuit was settled in 1994, and the city began a $10 million lead remediation project to clean berms (where bullets are fired) that was begun in 1995 and completed in 1996, said Dolensek.

“Subsequently, we were told that this (cleaning) was happening regularly,” she said.

She noted that another city contract to clean lead at the Rodman’s Neck range was awarded in 2006 to MT2, a range service provider.

This development comes of the heels of news that a architect has been selected for a $275 million planned reconstruction of range, and the recent selection for the project of design firm Smith-Miller & Hawkinson.

According to Bob Bieder, 45th Precinct Community Council president, another meeting between NYPD officials and the community council is being planned for late July to discuss the overall reconstruction and the plans for sound abatement, a top priority of nearby communities on Eastchester Bay.

Bieder said that the issue with the high lead level was a separate one from the issue of noise remediation, with sound baffling expected to be included in the overall reconstruction project.

Based on his knowledge, Bieder said that while the contract had been awarded for the design, it has not yet been signed.

The precinct council board meeting with the police officials and the contractor was scheduled later in July so that if the contracts are not finalized, the meeting can be easily rescheduled, said Bieder.

“The tentatively scheduled meeting will be a meet and greet with the contractor to find out more about the project, what is going to happen with staging, and all the other things that have to be addressed on such a huge project,” said Bieder. “All the stakeholders have been invited.”

Bieder added that he also wants to ensure funding for the sound remediation at the range is budgeted to put to rest rumors that funding for sound remediation may not be available.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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