Not so fast, pols to Blaz/Questions arise over Rodman’s Neck upgrade

Mayor de Blasio examines bullet resistant windows on police cars with James O’Neill, NYPD commissioner and cops at Rodman’s Neck. This was before a press conference on Wednesday, February 1 where the mayor spoke of the future of Rodman’s Neck and a possible $275 million budget allocation for the major reconstruction of the NYPD facility.
Photo courtesy of Mayor de Blasio’s office

More information is being requested on the mayor’s proposed renovation of Rodman’s Neck.

A possible city budget allocation of $275 million to rebuild the NYPD range and training facility at Rodman’s Neck in phases over ten years has some questioning just how – and how quickly – the sound attenuation that nearby communities have requested for a generation will come to fruition.

Mayor de Blasio made an official announcement along with Councilman James Vacca at a press conference at the facility on Tuesday, January 31.

Barbara Dolensek, City Island Civic Association vice president, said the community group and Vacca had been doing the bulk of the advocacy to get sound attenuating included in the Rodman’s Neck rebuilding project, which police officials believe is needed for training police officers.

“I am thrilled with the allocation, it did not happen over night and it did not come easy,” said Vacca, adding “I am going to insist that there be community input during the design phase.”

Both Dolensek and Vacca said more information about the details and timetable are needed.

Separately, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, who wrote to the mayor about the planned allocation in a letter dated January 31, have all requested more information.

Their letter noted that the multi-million dollar commitment, which would include six new ranges with sound controls that the mayor said would reduce noise from the range in nearby communities to ambient levels, is an ambitious goal, and one “that previous administrations have been unable to fulfill.”

The letter stated that the three electeds have “been vocal about the negative impacts the range presents to local communities” and urged the noise pollution and metal contamination removal parts of the massive overhaul be completed earlier in the time frame.

Klein said he would like to know how the city concluded that gunfire noise in nearby communities could be reduced to ambient levels, and thinks the construction of six new pistol ranges with sound baffling, a part of a much larger project, should be completed earlier on.

“The (gun noise) has been something that City Islanders have had to suffer and bear for an awful long time,” said Klein. “If we can alleviate that as quickly as possible – that is really our top priority.”

The senator also wants to see an environmental impact statement on the surrounding community.

For Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, who said he lived on City Island for over a decade, environmental concerns and the overall effectiveness of sound mitigation stemming from the project are top issues.

“Our concern is that we make sure that $275 million is going to cover everything, and that the money is spent wisely,” said Gjonaj, added he wants to ensure that the reduction is significant.

Another priority that all three lawmakers stated they would like to see addressed is the future of the NYPD bomb detonation unit, which is currently housed at Rodman’s Neck.

“There is still a lot more to do, such as cleaning up the contamination of our soil and water way and finding another home for the bomb detonation unit,” said Benedetto.

Given the fact that the range was slated in 2007 to be moved to Queens, a plan that was later scuttled, some on City Island are doubtful that the sound remediation will even occur.

“Anything to get more information (on the plan) is helpful,” said John Doyle, a CICA board member, adding “until there is a shovel in the ground,” there should not be any celebration.

He believes that future mayors during the ten-year time frame could remove the funding for all or part of the Rodman’s Neck project even if it is allocated in this coming year’s fiscal budget.

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

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