Northeast Queens community activists scheduled a rally this weekend to urge the city to provide security guard detail at Fort Totten following a recent announcement by the FDNY that it would not renew its contract with the Bayside fort, which it guarded, amid budget constraints.
The Bay Terrace Community Alliance and Friends of Fort Totten Parks will hold the rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fort Totten’s front gate, at the Cross Island Parkway and 212th Street in Bayside.
The two groups are concerned that the fort will be at risk for vandalism, arson and burglary if its front gate is left unattended.
“We just want to maintain the status quo,” said Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel. Fort Totten is surrounded by residential areas, so any criminal activity that happens there could spill over into the community.”
The fort’s security was handed over to Flushing’s 109th Precinct last weekend, FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer said. The site had previously been guarded by FDNY members, who manned a booth at its entrance gate.
Detective Kevin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the precinct, said police would not stand guard outside the fort and at most the precinct would send a squad car to occasionally patrol its perimeters. But he said a number of groups are stationed at Fort Totten, including an Army National Guard unit, an NYPD K−9 unit, an EMS academy and the auxiliary Coast Guard.
The FDNY, which had previously provided round−the−clock security at the fort for the past two years, did not renew its contract after Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced city budget cuts.
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) said he was concerned not only about removing security at the fort, but also at Randall’s Island, located between Queens and Manhattan, and at an EMS facility in Maspeth.
“If the police and fire departments have to cut back on services, the safety of the public will be compromised,” Vallone said.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@time
©2009 Community News Group
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