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NYPD range staying put in Pelham Bay Park, City Island community reacts

Bratton: Rodman’s Neck stays open, to see $150 million in improvements

Bronx Times
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The New York Police Department is keeping its Rodman’s Neck facility in Pelham Bay Park open, says its top cop.

It appears that the NYPD will not be reducing its operations at the Rodman’s Neck firing range in Pelham Bay Park after a new facility in Queens opens, as the City Island community had been told.

Leaders on City Island are now seeking clarification from the NYPD on its intentions for the future of Rodman’s Neck, after they were told in 2009 that operations there would be significantly reduced when a firing range in the new police academy in College Point, Queens was completed.

The need for further clarification comes after John Doyle, a member of the both the City Island Civic Association and 45th Precinct Community Council boards, asked Police Commissioner William Bratton about the facility’s future.

The question was asked at a town hall meeting for precinct council board members at the Bronx Zoo on Tuesday, December 9, according to Doyle. The meeting was with the commissioner and Bronx Borough Command, he said.

“I asked Commissioner Bratton a very straightforward question,” said Doyle. “He did not give me the answer I wanted, but he gave me a very direct answer, that the funding was not there.”

According to Doyle, he asked how changes had been made to a plan that would have significantly reduced operations at the Rodman’s Neck range to just the bomb squad and sniper training.

Doyle said that Bratton told him that the facility would not be closing because the funds to do so were not allocated by the City Council, and that Bratton wanted it kept open.

Doyle said the commissioner also told him that $150 million in renovations were planned for Rodman’s Neck.

Bob Bieder, 45th Precinct Community Council president, said he had heard from a police source that $150 million would be invested in modernizing Rodman’s Neck, as opposed to $750 million for a new range in Queens. He said that he heard the decision was made during the budget crunch of the last several years.

The City Island community is likely to discuss the matter at its next civic association meeting on the last Tuesday of January, said CICA vice-president Barbara Dolensek.

“The city announced plans for a new academy in Queens,” said Dolensek, who said that the Queens facility was supposed to include a range. “We had a commitment that this would mean relief for the City Island community.”

Dolensek and many of her neighbors have had to cope with noise from the range, including automatic gunfire and the detonation of seized fireworks and other bombs.

She said that the problem has gotten worse in recent years as police officers now carry more powerful guns that make more noise.

Councilman James Vacca said that the pledge to limit NYPD operations at Rodman’s Neck came as part of a deal reached by the Bloomberg administration, the City Council, and the police when the NYPD came to the council to ask permission to use city-owned land in College Point to build a new police academy.

“It is not a question of the City Council allocating money,” said Vacca, who added “This is a question of the police department living up to their word.”

Doyle said that had the plan gone the way it was originally proposed in 2009, all but 0.2 percent of gunfire at the range would cease, but bomb detonation would remain.

The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment on the matter as of press time.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Posted 12:00 am, December 19, 2014
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