Written by Linda Portney Goldstein Friday, 10 February 2012 00:00
The first public meeting of the full PW Police District Building Committee occurred on Feb. 1. The civilian members of the committee were appointed in December.
At that meeting, Commissioner Duncan had requested that the civilian committee members tour the current facility. All the participants have completed at least one walk through. The consensus is that the department needs more space. Fred Blumlein in commenting on what he saw during his walk through said, “I felt that I was looking at an old fire truck. You wouldn’t dare use an outdated piece of equipment to fight a fire and protect the community. I use that analogy because what you are looking at is something here that is in desperate need of upgrading.” James Cowles added, “We are hiring these officers to protect us and then putting them in harm’s way because of outdated facilities.”
None of the committee members think it is feasible to provide the additional space that is needed in the current location because it would necessitate taking down the building and starting from scratch, requiring a temporary move to another space. The estimated cost of a project like this is $17 million without considering the two re-locations that temporarily vacating the current space would necessitate. All committee members agree this proposal is a non-starter. That leaves the committee looking at other sites. It is anticipated that the project in a new location would cost between $8 million and $10 million.Commissioner Duncan spoke to the issue of funding. The district can tap into grants from the county, the state and the Department of Homeland Security.
In the event of an emergency in Manhattan, Port Washington is a pre-determined terminus for evacuation of Manhattan. Long Island Railroad trains would run directly here without any stops and evacuation would also occur by boat between the city and Port Washington. In this scenario federal agencies would require space and the latest in communications equipment. Therefore it is anticipated that the district will be able to secure some measure of funds from the Department of Homeland Security.
As determined by the committee, the new facility needs to be at least two and a half acres, which would allow for ample parking and a secure impound facility, adequate jail cells and a firing range. The facility must be located in the unincorporated part of town and the department must own the building and the land on which it is situated.
The civilian members of the committee are accumulating information with respect to the operational needs of the department. It is up to them to translate these needs to a suggested site and a proposed design for a new building. As part of this process, they will be visiting Lake Success and Kings Point to tour their police facilities, which have been built within the last ten years. When they complete their fact finding, they will make their recommendations to the other members of the committee, which are the commissioners and members of the chief’s department. There will be a public hearing before the official report is formulated. Once the final report is complete there will be another public meeting.
The Port Washington Police District currently operates out of a building on Port Washington Boulevard that is approximately 10,000 square feet, with limited parking, employee restrooms that require passage through an area where prisoners are detained and offices meant for one employee housing two and three individuals. The hallways are lined with file cabinets. A study performed for the district in 2000 came to the conclusion that the department requires a minimum of 20,000 square feet to operate efficiently.
In December of 2011, the Police Commissioners took the historic step of appointing a group of civilians to assist them in determining how to proceed in acquiring more space for operations. The civilian committee members are Milan Schiff, Stan Ronell, James Cowles, Mark Hanlon, Reid Markam, John Immitt and Fred Blumlein. The appointees bring to the table a variety of skills related to construction, engineering, architecture and law. Commissioner Duncan is the chairperson and summed up the objectives of the committee, “To provide the best service for the least cost with minimal residential impact.”