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New PWPD Headquarters?

During the past several years at their monthly meetings, the Port Washington Police District Commissioners have been discussing the possibility of a new headquarters at a larger site in Port. This was being done in executive sessions, which are not open to the public, where real estate matters are a permissible topic.

In a phone interview, Police Commissioner Sal Zimbardi advised that in 2000, the commissioners hired an architect to review the present headquarters on Port Washington Boulevard. The architect informed them that the site was too small for their needs.

Mr. Zimbardi pointed out that currently, officers are working in the garage, the parking is “horrible,” and there is no safe way and secluded area to take prisoners into custody. He added there is no lunchroom or locker room for the employees.

Simply put, “the building is outdated,” said the commissioner.

So for the past nine years, the commissioners have looked at several sites, he said.

At one point, they were very interested in a piece of property, however, that information got out and someone else bought the property at a higher price.

They are currently interested in a parcel of land. However, they want to avoid a bidding war to save the taxpayers some money, so they are not disclosing which property they’re interested in.

Mr. Zimbardi said that the board of commissioners is trying to get a contract on that parcel, but it has to be with a few conditions. The main one is that the PWPD will buy the site subject to obtaining the necessary funding. Essentially, he said, “we need a contract with an escape clause.”

The commissioner stressed that the board will definitely hold a public meeting, in a large space, to make a presentation to the community, once the contract is finalized.

Port News asked him how the commissioners plan to finance the new headquarters.

He replied that in addition to floating a bond, they would apply for grants, including Federal grants because of Port’s proximity to New York City. “In the event of another attack, the government could use the facility,” he noted.

“Asset forfeiture money could also be used,” he said, which might amount to $500,000-$600,000.” Additionally, they will have money from the sale of the current property, which could be between $1 million and $1.5 million, he advised.

Countering the argument that it’s a bad time to spend money because of the economic downturn, Mr. Zimbardi said, “Interest rates and prices are the lowest they may be for a long time.” Once the economy picks up, the price of property will go up and the rates will rise, he commented. “We’re thinking about the future. This would serve us for the next 50 years,” he said.

He pointed out that another way of saving money would be to use modular, pre-fab construction for the building.

Again, as the commissioner stressed, once the contract is accepted, there will be a public presentation at which community input will be solicited.

After that, the bond would have to be approved by the Town of North Hempstead Board, which oversees the financial matters of the police district.