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Many Elmhurst and Corona residents were pleased by the announcement that the 110th Precinct's new station house could be built in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, but neighbors of the station have mixed feelings about the possibility of losing the nearby police presence.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the City Council last week that the city and NYPD were looking at the park as the new station's possible location. Funding for the new precinct house is slated for the 2011 fiscal year.
But Lucy Schilero, the 110th Precinct Community Council secretary and head of the Coalition of United Residents, is reviving a fight she started two decades ago to keep the station on 43rd Avenue, near her own home.
"We still want it," said Schilero, who helped lead a 1985 campaign against moving the station out of the neighborhood. She said she is working on a petition to present to Kelly. At the very least, she added, "we'd like to keep it a precinct of some sort."
Schilero gathered between 20 and 30 neighbors in front of the 68-year-old station house Saturday morning to make their voices heard as discussions on the project progress.
"It's like 24-hour security," said Andreas Constantino, 68, who has lived in the neighborhood for 42 years.
Catherine Basiakyros, 76, a resident for 45 years, said the police station helps keep crime off her street. "I hate the thought of it," she said of the potential move. "Anyone could move in."
Carmen Sosa, 52, teaches at St. Bartholomew School, which is a few hundred feet from the station house. Prompt police response helps keep student incidents at a minimum, she said.
"If they're going to be that far away, it won't be as helpful," she said.
Placing a police headquarters in the park could also create logistical headaches, Schilero said.
"My concern is when they have festivals, a Mets game or a tennis match, they won't be able to function because of traffic congestion," she said.
Deborah Cohen, the 110th Community Council president, was more enthusiastic about the potential move, which would replace the 68-year-old station house. She urged the NYPD to consider moving its medical office to the same building in the park. The office is in the city's Department of Environmental Protection building on Junction Boulevard in Lefrak City.
"That's where all the cops throughout New York City have to go for any kind of medical issue," she said.
Whatever the case, precinct commander Deputy Inspector Richard Napolitano said the decision is out of his hands.
"That decision is way above my head," he said at a recent community council meeting. "I won't have any impact on that."
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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