As an official for Perkins Will scanned through the first architectural renderings for the Police Department’s planned $1 billion training academy, members of Community Board 7 squinted their eyes, their faces quickly turning sour.
“It looks boring,” CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman said quietly.
It was not long before CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty stopped architect Scott Schaunburg from continuing with his presentation.
“Wait, wait, wait. Why does it look like thati” Kelty asked. “It looks like a Jumbotron, like you’re going to show a picture on it.”
“You guys are a tough crowd,” Schaunburg responded.
Much of the meeting — the second of three CB 7 will hold on the police academy planned for the College Point Corporate Park — went similarly as skeptical board members questioned city officials and architects on the proposal.
The city’s proposed plan to construct a massive $1 billion, 3-million-square-foot police training academy in College Point began the public approval process last month and CB 7 is expected to vote on the project at a public hearing June 29.
The new facility would bring NYPD programs such as emergency vehicles and firearms training, which currently take place in the Bronx and Brooklyn — miles from the police academy’s Manhattan site — into one site with 250 classrooms, a field house, a tactical village, facilities to mimic prisoner processing stations and a simulated subway station to permit training in biological, chemical and radiological attacks.
There will be space for 2,000 recruits per year and refresher programs for officers and members of other law enforcement agencies.
City officials told CB 7 it plans to take a phased approach to the project because of the poor economic climate.
“You had asked about that,” Schaunburg said. “And the answer is that we’re not going to fund the entire project right now.”
Instead, the city said it hopes to build the core of the facility in the first of three phases, which would include the construction of the academic classrooms, tactical gyms, a small dining area, administrative office and a temporary 700-space parking lot.
But members of the board seemed less concerned about the phasing of the project, focusing more on security, environmental and design issues.
Board Member Bob LoPinto said a canal that runs through the center of the proposed academy campus could cause security and maintenance issues. NYPD Deputy Inspector Terry Reilly said the academy will be well-secured, but there has to be a limit to the measures they enact.
“At some point, you’ve gotta say, if somebody gets onto the campus, well, what are they going to doi” Reilly asked. “There’s going to be 1,600 police officers there.”
“One of the things we decided early on is that we didn’t want to make this an Iron Fortress,” Scott Sigal of Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler’s office added. “So we’re trying to balance these elements.”
The $1 billion project would be situated on a 30-acre site in the College Point Corporate Park near the Whitestone Expressway, bounded by 31st Avenue, College Point Boulevard, 28th Avenue and Ulmer Street.
CB 7 was scheduled to be briefed on other aspects of the project Tuesday, the final meeting ahead of the June 29 public hearing which will be held at Union Plaza Care Center in Flushing at 6:30 p.m.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@
©2009 Community News Group
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