Vol. 19,  No.  20 Oct. 19 - Nov. 1,  2006


Armory Maintenance Unit Moves to Staten Island
City Still Needs to Relocate Artillery Unit


Lockers belonging to nearly 200 members of the 145th Maintenance Company were quietly placed onto two military trucks on Saturday and delivered to Staten Island as the National Guard unit slowly moved out of the Kingsbridge Armory to its new base on Manor Road in Staten Island.

“We’re moving finally,” Specialist Charlie Ojeda of Washington Avenue said, as soldiers removed personal items and placed lockers onto the two waiting trucks.

“I don’t want to move,” Ojeda lamented. “I’ve been here for 15 years. This is home.”

He’s also not happy about the commute members will be making two days a month.

“Wow, by public transportation you’re looking at two and a half hours. If you miss the ferry, you’re talking another half hour,” Ojeda continued. “I think it's best if we stay here. We’re a Bronx unit and we should be representing the Bronx right here.”

Ojeda and other members of the 145th had responded to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in lower Manhattan and more recently to hurricanes in the Dominican Republic and upstate New York.

Specialist Galo Luna of Castle Hill, who has decided not to go to Staten Island, said, “I’m going to miss the people I used to work with, but it’s time to move on.”

Military spokesman Kent Kisselbrack declined to say whether the move to Staten Island was a permanent one. He said the unit’s relocation is indicative of the military’s desire to restructure to be more flexible and meet “21st century needs.”

Kisselbrack said the move is not connected to the upcoming redevelopment of the Armory, which will soon become a mixed-use commercial complex.

Members of the 258th Field Artillery are still housed in one of the Armory’s annex buildings, which are slated to be torn down and turned into schools.

Kisselbrack said it’s up to the city to find the 258th a new home. “New York City needs to find us a suitable alternate site before we can move,” Kisselbrack said.

Back in June, developer Peter Fine, who has been open about his desire to take on the Armory project, said he had purchased a site in the Zerega industrial district to relocate both National Guard units. At the time, Kisselbrack said the site appeared to meet military guidelines.
Community leaders said Fine’s ability to relocate the homeless military units would give him an advantage in the bidding process, but in the Armory project’s request for proposals, the city said that relocation plans would not factor into their final decision.

Construction on the Armory is set to begin in the second quarter of 2009, so the 258th must be relocated before that happens.

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