Vol. 19,  No.  2 Jan. 26 - Feb. 8, 2006


Police Academy in Store for Armory?
Debate in Administration


Some officials in the Bloomberg administration want a new police academy inside the Kingsbridge Armory, and that is more of a stumbling block than where to put the two National Guard units who still use the site, say local elected officials.

Assemblyman Jose Rivera, chair of the Bronx Democratic Party, said Mayor Bloomberg told him around the time of Governor Pataki’s visit to the armory last summer that he was interested in pursuing the idea.

“The mayor was suggesting bringing the police academy there and he was going to talk to [Police Commissioner Ray] Kelly,” Rivera said.

But a staffer for another local elected official who asked not to be identified, said, “Kelly doesn’t want it there,” but added that a “free-flowing debate” continues within the administration. “There are people in the administration who feel strongly that that would be a [great] place to put a new police academy and others that feel [it wouldn’t].”

That’s the real problem blocking any progress on redeveloping the landmark, the staffer said.

“If they had a path forward … then the Guard thing would be solved,” he said, adding that, to his knowledge, the Bloomberg administration has not made a request to the city’s Congressional delegation for federal funds that could be used to build a new home for the Guard units.

Former mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins pushed plans to relocate the current academy in Manhattan to a new facility in the south Bronx, but Mayor Giuliani quashed the project almost as soon as he took office in 1994, citing cost concerns.

Rivera said he didn’t think the police would want to share the armory with anyone in a post-9/11 world and that he thinks the city should release a long-delayed request for proposals. He pressed the mayor on the issue in his speech marking the opening of the Bronx Library Center last week. Bloomberg had not yet arrived but members of his staff were present, Rivera said.

Ronn Jordan, president of the Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, a local grassroots group that has been the most active in pushing a specific redevelopment plan, said he felt a police academy at the armory would not be appropriate.

“Our schools are so over-policed now and there’s like 30 cops when you walk in the door,” said Jordan, whose group supports the construction of three schools on the site where the two National Guard buildings now stand in addition to recreational facilities and a movie theater in the rest of the complex. “They [students] see enough of it. They feel criminalized as it is.”

The mayor’s press office did not respond to requests for comment, and a Police Department spokesman did not respond by press time.

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