State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said that they are opposed to a proposal to create a new city Department of Correction training facility at Fort Totten.
Braunstein said that, according to a document his office received that was dated Sept. 26, the city has moved to re-use a portion of Fort Totten to create permanent home for a city Department of Correction training academy. In 2015, the city’s Fire Department—in collaboration with the city’s Office of Management and Budget and Design and Construction Department—initiated the first of two consultant studies on the proposal. An analysis of requirements for the site is expected to be completed this month, according to the document.
“I strongly oppose the creation of a new DOC training facility at Fort Totten and find it outrageous that the city is secretly considering this proposal, which could have a detrimental impact on our parkland,” Braunstein said. “Recently, Community Board 7 notified my office that DOC was considering a facility at Fort Totten. Upon receiving this information, my requests to various city agencies have failed to result in any substantive information. It is absolutely unacceptable that a proposal of this magnitude was not shared with elected officials and the community board for over two years.”
Braunstein called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to abandon plans for the facility at Fort Totten, while Vallone added that Bayside was the wrong community in which to locate such a facility.
In a letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Jan. 11, state Senator Tony Avella raised concerns with the city’s “serious lack of information” in reference to certain project propositions by the Fire Department and Department of Corrections (DOC). The FDNY has proposed building a wind turbine at the Bay Terrace location, while DOC considers using it as the site of its new training academy.
After an alleged runaround from city agencies, Avella has filed a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request for documents pertaining to both proposals.
“What are you hiding?” Avella writes. “I would appreciate a full briefing on your plans by all those involved.”
Fort Totten — formally an active U.S. Army installation in the Bay Terrace section of the neighborhood — is currently used by the U.S. Army Reserve, NYPD and FDNY. Certain portions are designated public park areas.
For FY 2018, DOC allocated $1.1 billion to fund a “New Jail Facilities” project, prompted by Mayor de Blasio’s push to close Rikers Island and create neighborhood-based and decentralized jail sites. Avella questioned whether DOC’s interest in Fort Totten pertained to this move.
“I hope this is not a hidden plan to place a jail on the Fort,” Avella writes. “Such an attempt would be fought vigorously by the whole community.”