Nassau plans to spend $13 million to build a new First Precinct station house in Baldwin on the parking lot of the existing Baldwin building, a dilapidated, 82-year-old structure whose future has been debated for nearly a decade.
County officials said the new 25,000-square-foot building will operate as a fully-staffed station house and the First Precinct will not merge with the Seventh in Seaford, as originally planned by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
The consolidation plan called for reducing Nassau's eight precincts to four. But after the Seventh Precinct building flooded during superstorm Sandy, the county changed course and decided to keep both the First and the Seventh fully staffed.
Mangano said his administration "worked in close partnership with the community to ensure that a new First Precinct is constructed in Baldwin and serves as an asset to the community and police department alike."
Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick), who opposed consolidation, called plans for the new facility a "victory for the people of the First and Seventh precincts that opposed consolidation."
Nassau remains under a state financial control board, which has imposed a wage freeze, and the consolidation was part of an effort to address budget shortfalls. County officials say the consolidation has produced $20 million in annual savings by cutting more than 100 administrative positions.
County spokesman Brian Nevin said the new First Precinct plan should not affect the budget projections. The county will borrow for the new construction.
In May, Nassau released a request for proposals to build a new precinct facility on the site of the county-owned Kellogg House, which is located at Harrison Avenue and Merrick Road across the street from the new precinct site. But after community activists launched a grassroots effort to save the 113-year-old house, the county voided the RFP. The house will be preserved and transformed into a community center.
Plans also call for Harrison Avenue to remain open to the public. Nassau also will spend $700,000 to purchase a Huntington Learning Center building located next to the house that will be used for parking.
"We are very happy they are going to keep the house and that organizations like us are going to be able to use the space for community events," said David Viana, president of the Baldwin Civic Association.
Arthur T. Rollin, an architectural designer and Baldwin Historical Society member, expressed caution about the precinct and community center plans. "The renderings are exciting to see, but we haven't seen anything concrete yet," he said.
County legislature Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) declined to comment on the plan, noting that she was awaiting a briefing by the administration.
Former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who is running for his old job, sparked an uproar in 2005 after trying to relocate the precinct house to Roosevelt to help revitalize the area. He later backed down.
Four years later, Suozzi inked a 30-year lease to build a new station house in a strip mall on Grand Avenue. The deal, passed by the lame-duck Democratic legislature before Mangano's inauguration, would have cost Nassau nearly $23 million in construction, rent and other expenses. Mangano voided the lease after taking office in 2010.
Bids on the project are due by Sept. 10, and Mangano plans to present the winning contract to the GOP-controlled legislature on Sept. 23, Nevin said. If approved by the legislature, construction would begin next month with the precinct opening in March 2015.
"This project is long overdue," said Police Benevolent Association president James Carver. "It's good to see the county is following through. But seeing will be believing."
With Aisha Al-Muslim