"No precinct, no vote."
That is the message Rosedale and Springfield Gardens residents want to send to office-seekers in the upcoming 2009 municipal elections. The southeast Queens neighborhoods complain that they have been calling for a new precinct to be formed from the southern half of the 105th Precinct for 30 years.
At a town hall-style meeting Saturday at St. Clare's Roman Catholic Church in Rosedale, neighbors and elected officials discussed the current situation. Leaders urged residents to let candidates know that a new precinct is a top priority.
The idea of dividing the 105th into two precincts has been tossed around since at least 1975 because it covers so much territory. The fourth-largest precinct in the city, it stretches from Glen Oaks in the north down along the Nassau border to Rosedale in the south. In 2007, the NYPD said the average response time in the southern half was 9.3 minutes, 15 percent longer than the citywide average at the time, which was seven minutes.
Community Board 13, which covers Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and St. Albans, has listed a separate precinct as a top capital priority since 1983.
The establishment of a 105th Precinct substation in the area last July did not end calls for a new precinct.
"Has it affected our crime? Have you seen any difference in crime in our areas?" said Marcia Smith-Riffkin, member of the 116th Police Precinct Community Task Force, organized by U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica).
Meeks, who spoke briefly at the meeting, said the slow response time and crime problems have been a longstanding issue for southern Queens. He said the task force's efforts helped pave the way for the substation, but urged residents to demand more.
"They thought we might be happy with that," he said. "We're not. What we need is a full precinct."
Residents in the audience were also critical of police response times.
"When something is going on, or even just a traffic accident, by the time they come from the north, the people have pulled away," said Rosedale resident Richie Fox, 57.
Ray Hussey, 74, of Springfield Gardens, said police have taken 45 minutes to an hour to respond to his calls, "if they come at all."
Both men said they believed politics were the cause of the delay in getting a new precinct.
The task force proposed Murdock Avenue be the northern border of the 116th Precinct.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@tim
©2008 Community News Group
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