In a bid to bring more officers to College Point, community leaders and a local councilman are pushing for a police substation in the heart of the neighborhood.
On behalf of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association, Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has asked the city Police Department to look into the possibility of opening a substation in trailers on 14th Avenue and College Point Boulevard.
The trailers now are the temporary home of the Poppenhusen Library, which is under renovation and located across the street. The renovation is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.
At the beginning of July, Avella wrote to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, suggesting the station.
Avella said he was aware that the NYPD has a policy of not setting up substations but pointed out that the 109th Precinct, which covers College Point, Flushing, Whitestone and Bay Terrace, was overstretched.
"I keep pressing the issue," he said. "We need to have a greater police presence and visibility in northeast Queens. Something has got to give, whether it's a substation or a police precinct."
Detective Walter Burns, a spokesman for the Police Department, said the agency was reviewing Avella's request.
For years, residents of College Point have called for more police protection. The neighborhood's main business district is about two miles from the 109th Precinct stationhouse on Union Street in Flushing. With only three roads leading into College Point, the area is somewhat cut off from other parts of the 109th Precinct.
The two precincts that make up northeast Queens, the 109th and the 111th, are two of the largest in the city. The precincts, however, have relatively low rates of violent crimes, with the 111th rated one of the safest precincts in the city.
Community leaders have complained that the large area and low staffing levels allow for high rates of burglaries and other quality-of-life crimes.
Avella wrote to the Police Department after members of the College Point Civic and Taxpayers Association brought up the subject at a community meeting that the councilman attended.
"I think (the station) will help keep order, especially when the children are out from school," said Sabina Cardali, the president of the civic and a TimesLedger columnist.
Avella is not the first councilman to push for a greater security presence in northeast Queens.
In May, Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), police officers and other elected officials unveiled an auxiliary booth at the center of downtown Flushing at Main Street and 41st Avenue.
The booth is staffed in the afternoons and evenings by auxiliaries, trained volunteers who wear uniforms and carry nightsticks but are not actual police officers and do not have guns.
Avella's proposal, however, calls for a station manned by police officers, not auxiliaries.
Detective Frank Seabrook, a community affairs officer with the 109th, said a foot patrol in College Point was possibly more effective than a substation.
"We have a steady footman up there," he said.
Avella said his primary goal was not a new substation but a new precinct.
"I really believe a final solution in the end is a new station for northeast Queens," Avella said.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.
©2003 Community News Group
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