State Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Bayside Hills, Broadway-Flushing, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, North Shore Towers, Oakland Gardens, Whitestone) recalled an unusual document arriving at his office last Monday with a plan he hadn’t know about—a potential Department of Correction (DOC) training facility at Fort Totten Park.
“I just felt frustrated that the city hadn’t given us the heads up about this since 2015,” Braunstein said.
The Fire Department-written, anonymously sent, highlights Fort Totten Park, a city-owned area in Bayside, as a potential site for its proposal. Two buildings would be replaced for the facility with expanded parking for students, teachers, and administrators.
The park is already home to train city employees, such as from New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York. City officials began to view Fort Totten as a home for a DOC building in 2015, according to the report. A reported $100 million will be used to build the entire project if approved after a feasibility study is completed.
Braunstein highlighted how the NYPD and FDNY are groups that operate within Fort Totten, while preserving the park-life quality. This could all change with a potential DOC building.
“My concern, and I think the concern of my constituents, is if you put a $100 million facility there with 160 parking spaces with below-rate garage, there’s going to a lot more traffic and a lot more people,” he said.
The Queens lawmaker is yet to receive answers from the Mayor’s office or any other city agency despite repeated questions for comment.
“Any questions with any city agencies, the most we were given was ‘Yeah, Fort Totten is under consideration for a DOC facility.’ But that was about the extent of what what we were told,” said Braunstein.
City Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, East Elmhurst, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Little Neck, Whitestone) also expressed concerns with the plan for the potential DOC facility.
“It is gravely concerning when any of our parks, especially a place as special as Fort Totten, is targeted for development,” said Vallone. “Fort Totten’s location is nestled in a small residential community that lacks the infrastructure, public transportation and accessibility for a development of this magnitude.”
DOC Spokesperson Peter Thorne explained the agency always looks for the “best possible training” for future officers. Yet a decision on the project is not yet finalized as the agency awaits the results of the study
“We look forward to seeing the results of the feasibility study once it’s completed,” Throne said.