East Bronx communities feel they have been betrayed by City Hall after the mayor again sidelined the planned reconstruction of a police facility.
Mayor de Blasio left out a multi million dollar allocation in his recently released Fiscal Year 2016-2017 executive budget that would have been earmarked for the reconstruction of the police firing range at Rodman’s Neck next to Pelham Bay Park.
The budget was to have included the much needed sound abatement funding to quiet the gun range.
Community leaders at the City Island Civic Association, who had been advocating for sound abatement for over two decades, were disappointed.
The budget for FY 2016-2017 is scheduled to go into effect on Friday, July 1.
Councilman James Vacca said prior to the release of the mayor’s budget that he fully expected a $150 million appropriation for sound attenuation at the range.
The councilman said he had been advised that plans to reconstruct the Rodman’s Neck police facility and add sound controls were completed, and that the NYPD had submitted one of the plans to the mayor in time to be included in this year’s budget.
However, a source in the mayor’s office disputed the councilman’s assertion.
Vacca said that it would appear that the mayor’s politics have once again gotten in the way of progress.
“It is incomprehensible that our city would not allocate funds to a facility that is essential for the training of New York’s Finest,” Vacca stated. “The existing infrastructure is literally falling apart.”
Putting aside the sound issue, many of the buildings at Rodman’s Neck were constructed as temporary buildings that were not designed for long-term use, and Vacca is now calling for the NYC Department of Buildings to investigate the soundness of the structures in the restricted facility.
“There are many structures that are temporary and have been there for years, and there are lead abatement issues too,” said Vacca. “I am concerned about the conditions that our police officers train under.”
John Doyle, CICA board member, said that its membership is disappointed.
“This fits the pattern for the past two decades, where promises were made and not kept about Rodman’s Neck,” he said, adding “A budget is a symbol of your priorities, and clearly the budget that has been introduced did not reflect any priority to addressing the (noise) situation for residents along the waterfront.”
Noise abatement at the facility was first pledged by Mayor David Dinkins in 1993 when the parkland was being alienated and given to the police department, and similar promises have been made in the years since, but the installation of sound baffles was never successfully completed, he said.
The issue affects shoreline communities up and down Eastchester Bay, including Country Club and Edgewater Park, said Doyle.
Barbara Dolensek, another CICA board member, said she is urging her neighbors through Facebook to write letters to the mayor, but held out little hope of swaying him.
“I am sure the mayor is going to ignore my letter,” she said, adding that when the police firing range was slated to move to a new police academy at College Point, Queens several years ago, it was going to be enclosed to lessen the noise from gunfire, but no such treatment is being considered for Rodman’s Neck.
A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office indicated that the project is still being considered.
“There is currently a Capital Project Scope Development study underway to evaluate the project scope and costs,” she stated. “The final presentation on the study is anticipated this summer, and the results of the study will help us determine next steps.”