BY TRONE DOWD
After years of delay and indifference from elected officials, Mayor Bill de Blasio allocated funds for the opening of the long awaited 116th Precinct.
News broke of the mayor’s approval Tuesday morning when he released his $82.2 billion executive budget for the city. According to the mayor’s fact sheet, the administration focused entirely on improving and investing in public safety, public health, education, fighting homelessness, improving crumbling infrastructure and the city’s transportation system. The mayor touted that the budget is only $100 million more than last year’s executive budget. Among these changes included $292 million towards renovating the Queensboro Bridge, $357 million towards accelerating work on the City Water Tunnel, $5 million towards funding 50 new ambulance tours to make emergency response times more efficient and $10 million towards the creation of two animal shelters, one of which will be in Queens.
Chief among those capital investments is establishing a new 116th Precinct in Southeast Queens. According to the mayor, the new precinct will allow “for faster response times and improved crime fighting.” The precinct will cost the city $70 million.
The creation of the 116th Precinct will essentially cut the current 105th Precinct, the fourth largest in the entire city encompassing 12.7 square miles of land or about half the length of Manhattan, into two more manageable halves. In the past, the 105th was known to have unusually long emergency response times, often times taking 33 percent longer to arrive at the scene of a 911 call compared to the rest of the city. To help combat this, the 105th created a satellite office in Rosedale in 2007. Just last month, the 105th received city funds to increase the satellite’s resources as well as expand its hours from 16 to 24 hours. While the exact figure of investment was never made public, the expansion was made to help improve the efficiency of police in the area.
The Mayor’s office said there would be no time frame on when the 116th will begin to serve the community until the administration decides on a location for the Precinct. When this reporter asked the mayor’s office whether the new Precinct could open where the recently funded and expanded 105th Satellite currently is, or what would happen to the satellite and it’s recently scheduled expansions if a new area is chosen, they reiterated that they have not yet “identified a location for the precinct yet.”
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) called the news “a tremendous victory for eastern Queens communities.”
“For nearly four decades, residents of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens have been calling for the 116th Precinct and the city has finally delivered in 2016,” Richards said.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), who fought alongside Richards in the fight for the 116th, called it the “culmination of 40 years of community and political activism.”
The new precinct was something Borough President Melinda Katz had been pulling for sometime now, and as recently as last December when she met with New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. In fact, budget requests made by the Borough President for the 116th Precinct go back to previous administrations. Katz called the Mayor’s plan “welcoming news.”
“Many families in [Southeast Queens] have long identified the need for a new precinct closer to the neighborhoods it protects and serves,” Borough President Katz said. “The size of the existing 105th Precinct, which covers nearly 13 square miles and has its stationhouse on the northern end of the vertically-long territory, has posed significant geographical challenges that make it difficult to fully serve neighborhoods in the southern half of its jurisdiction.”
The 116th Precinct will serve Laurelton, Rosedale, Brookville and Springfield Gardens. The 105th Precinct on the other hand will now serve Cambria Heights, Bellerose, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park, Floral Park and parts of Queens Village.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, email@example.com or @theloniusly.