Written by Katie Piacentini Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
For over 10 years, the Port Washington Police District has been looking for new headquarters, and recently, a contract of sale for $2.5 million was signed to purchase 4.75 acres of land on Channel Drive in the Village of Port Washington North. This property is a vacant lot that was owned by Publishers Clearing House, and the Village of Port Washington North had considered this property as a possible site for a new Village Hall, Village Court, and Village Club.
Police Commissioner Angela Lawlor Mullins explained that the search for new headquarters began when an architectural planning firm did a study over 10 years ago, which found that the current police headquarters were obsolete. Additionally, this study found that the police district needs 20,000 square feet, while the present headquarters are 8,000 square feet. Some of the reasons for needing a larger property are that there is not enough room for parking and there is not enough room for documentation of court cases and files.
Additionally, the Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) Bureau of the New York State Department of Labor cited over 50 violations. One of these violations involves a set of stairs that are uneven and are not to code. Commissioner Lawlor Mullins said that people have tripped and fallen on these stairs, and that some people have been injured. Other violations deal with not having property emergency exits and storing property in garages, since headquarters is short on space.
Stephen Ressa, attorney for the Port Washington Police District, read a resolution to purchase property at the October 14 police district meeting. It was a 2-1 vote in favor of purchasing this property, with Commissioner Lawlor Mullins being the dissenting vote. She told Port News that there were several reasons why she voted against it, and that one of her main concerns was that there should have been more communication with the Port Washington North village board and mayor beforehand.
Since hearing of the police district’s intent to purchase this property, Robert Weitzner, the mayor of Port Washington North, has written to the police commissioners to improve communication on this matter and to receive more information about this plan and how it will affect the village. In this letter, Mayor Weitzner said, “The village wishes to see the 4.75-acre Publishers parcel donated as open space parkland for the entire community to use, as part of our master plan to acquire the front lawn of the former Thomson Industries, sell our land to a developer, and build a Village Hall, Court and Club. The police district’s purchase of this property seriously impacts that plan, as well as affecting the plan to expand the Bay Walk Park and secure funding for its construction through grant opportunities.” Additionally, Mayor Weitzner asked the police commissioners to set up a meeting to make village officials part of the process, to provide more information regarding this plan, and to discuss how it could benefit the village and the overall community.
The down payment on this property is $250,000, which is from a surplus of money that had been set aside towards repairs of the current police headquarters, Commissioner Lawlor Mullins said. The police district will need to float a bond through the Town of North Hempstead to cover the remainder of this cost, and will need approval from the town to do so. Additionally, the police district will apply for federal and state grants to fund the costs of building the new headquarters, and the police commissioners have estimated that the current headquarters could sell for $1 million to $1.5 million, which would also help to fund this project.
At this current time, the district is waiting for this contract to be approved and signed by the attorneys. When the contract is approved, a public hearing will be set up to gather feedback from the community. Commissioner Lawlor Mullins noted that there is a clause in the contract that allows them to cancel the sale if the community provides significant input against it.
The next meeting of the Port Washington Police District will be held on November 10 at Police Headquarters, located at 500 Port Washington Boulevard.