April 22, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
It has been more than 40 years in the making but residents in southeast Queens will finally get a new police precinct.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that the city will create a new precinct—the 116th—reversing a decision he made last year to scrap the project.
The new precinct, which residents have been demanding since the 1970s, will cover Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights and Springfield Gardens — neighborhoods that are currently located within the southern end of the 105th Precinct.
The new precinct will essentially be created by carving those areas out of the current 105th Precinct.
De Blasio said the city will allocate $105 million to setting up the precinct which will include constructing a new stationhouse – citing the injection of federal stimulus funds as the driving force behind his U-turn.
“These are things that the community has said will improve the quality of life and will allow the community to get what they need,” de Blasio said. “Literally this fight has been going on for decades.”
Residents and community leaders have long complained that police response times in the area are too slow given the size of the 105th Precinct which covers nearly 13 square miles – making it the fifth-largest precinct in the city.
The NYPD opened a satellite precinct station, located at 242-40 North Conduit Ave., in 2007 to serve the southern end of the precinct but residents say it is inadequate given that it is not a fully operational police station.
The new station is expected to be built on a site next to the satellite station, based on previous plans, although the mayor did not confirm those details during the press briefing.
The mayor initially approved the new precinct in 2016 but changed course last summer in the wake of demonstrations protesting the killing of George Floyd and widespread calls to defund the NYPD. De Blasio promised to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s operating budget and another $500 million in capital funding for the department.
The mayor rolled back plans for the new 116th Precinct as part of those budget reforms. He also reallocated police funds to fund a new community center in Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans.
However, the decision last year to scrap the creation of the new precinct was criticized by some residents.
De Blasio said Tuesday that the circumstances were different last year and he had to make a choice between cutting the NYPD budget and investing in communities.
“This 116th Precinct building was something that could not happen in that environment because of those trade-offs.”
“We [took] resources from the NYPD and put them into community needs like youth centers and recreation centers.”
De Blasio said that he was heeding the calls of the community and that both projects will now go ahead.
The announcement was welcomed by Queens officials who were on the press briefing call including US Congress Member Gregory Meeks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, City Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
“This is an exciting day… this struggle started in 1977,” Meeks said.
Brooks-Powers, who recently replaced Richards to represent the district, said that the announcement was a major victory for the area which has been “historically under-resourced.”
She said that the current station is located in the northern section of the vertically long precinct which makes it harder for police to respond quickly to residents living in the south. The precinct stretches more than eight miles north to south.
“Its size poses consistent challenges to fully serving neighborhoods in the southern half of the jurisdiction, resulting in long-standing disparities in response times and safety for the families of the district.
“The new 116th precinct was designed and slated to remedy this gap,” she said.