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Green space plan not swaying residents to back NYPD lot

Even though the NYPD promised to spruce up a proposed car impound lot in Springfield Gardens with green features that would make it a good neighbor, residents told Borough President Helen Marshall last Thursday that they do not want the space in their back yards.

Police administrators and the city Economic Development Corp. presented their plans to Marshall to move the police impound lot, which holds vehicles as evidence from crime scenes, from its current location in College Point to a new space at Rockaway Boulevard and North Boundary Road.

The plan was unanimously rejected by Community Board 13 last month due to concerns that the 13−acre lot would bring in noise and air pollution in the area, already loaded with environmental problems generated by John F. Kennedy International Airport and industrial buildings.

“The community has always been able to rely on that site to separate the community from the airport pollution,” CB 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht told the Marshall.

The move was necessary, according to Inspector Thomas Pellegrino of the NYPD Facilities Management Division, because the lot’s current location in College Point is set to be the home of a new, high−tech police academy facility and construction is slated to begin early next year.

Pellegrino said the EDC and police searched sites all over the five boroughs, including the Ridgewood Reservoir and the parking lot at the Aqueduct Race Track, and the unoccupied, grassy Springfield Gardens space was the only available area.

He pointed out that although the new lot will have to accommodate nearly 3,485 vehicles, the NYPD will manage the space by stacking the cars on two levels of movable platforms.

Both Pellegrino and EDC Assistant Vice President of Planning Marilyn Lee promised to listen to the community’s concerns when they develop the land.

During her presentation, Lee said the NYPD will surround the lot’s perimeter with trees that will not only absorb the carbon dioxide, but also block the view of the confiscated vehicles from motorists who pass by.

“The plan would involve letting the community in on the decisions about the site,” Lee said.

Residents said the changes to the plan, which Marshall will decide on by Nov. 3, were not enough and would still be a bane for Springfield Gardens.

Barbara Brown, chairwoman of the East Queens Alliance civic, noted that there is an air cargo warehouse and a bus depot down the street from the proposed area.

“We’re concerned about the air quality around there,” she said.

The borough president also expressed concerns about the environmental impact of moving the lot to Springfield Gardens and take it into consideration when she gives her recommendations.

“We have been working with them to make [the lot] more palatable,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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