The first phase of a master $656 million plan to construct a new police academy in College Point is well on track for substantial completion by next December, the NYPD said.
City recruits will not likely step foot into their new training digs until July 2014, but the two steel structures in the Phase 1 portion of the project — meant to house classrooms, administrative offices and gyms — have been erected and are close to being 100 percent constructed, according to Inspector Terrence Riley of the NYPD.
The 700,000-square-feet currently being developed in the project’s first phase, Riley said, will accommodate one tour of 1,640 recruits during their first six months of training. Among classrooms and gyms, the new space for the city’s finest-to-be will also include a quarter-mile outdoor running track and a mock-up small city with banks, stores, apartments and streetscapes for simulated scenario-based training.
Some 3,280 recruits a year will come in and out of the total 30 acre site — bordered by College Point Boulevard, 28th Avenue and Ulmer Street — once it is completed, but the full build has not been entirely designed or funded yet and will not be for a few years, Riley said.
“This is just the first piece of a master plan,” he said, adding that changing training needs, a shifting police force now consisting 30 percent of women, and the importance of consolidating training that is currently spread across the city led to the push for a new academy.
“Our firearms training is in the Bronx and our drivers training is in Brooklyn. So, we’re moving 2,000 to 3,000 recruits all around the city to get all their training over a six month period,” Riley said. “It just wasn’t efficient, so the decision was made to make really a substantial investment in a new police academy.”
But some College Point residents called that “substantial” multimillion dollar investment into question, saying the new academy will not directly decrease crime in the commercial area.
“I hear that figure and College Point doesn’t benefit from it,” said James Cervino, who said he and a growing group of locals have been calling for more police presence for years.
The recruits, Riley said, would be unarmed and half-trained and would not be walking the beat of College Point as a practice site during training. But 30 to 40 cops will be assigned to patrol the academy’s perimeters, Riley reassured, and the recruits will be expected to make arrests and call 9-1-1 if they spot a crime in progress.
“They are in the area and they are visible, which is better than now, which is nothing,” he said.
Riley also touted the 100 brand new positions that will open up for jobs maintaining the site’s power facilities. Instructors and staff, however, will be transferred over from the current police academy in Manhattan, he said.
Authorities are still working out issues revolving around the lack of parking spaces on site — only 900, which is not enough to cover one tour of recruits — and the estimated 80 trees chopped down around the academy’s perimeter without the NYPD’s knowledge.
Riley said the idea of shuttle buses, use of public transportation and carpool are being discussed and said the city’s Parks Department will replace the fallen trees with 120 new ones.