Nassau County officials were too slow to share details of the now-scrapped plan to move the police department’s Seventh Precinct to the entrance of a county park in Wantagh, residents told Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter and Legis. Steven D. Rhoads at a community meeting Tuesday night.
Many residents expressed distrust of County Executive Ed Mangano’s recent statement that the precinct would not move to Cedar Creek Park, despite repeated proclamations from both Krumpter and Rhoads (R-Bellmore), who said they spoke to Mangano on Tuesday.
“The county executive has made it clear, Cedar Creek Park will not be considered under any circumstances,” Krumpter told the crowd, adding that “my boss” Mangano was calling his cellphone during the meeting.
Krumpter and Rhoads spoke to the assembled crowd of about 125 residents in the auditorium at Wantagh High School in an attempt to calm fears after residents expressed concern about the plan to move the precinct to the park.
Several residents said they first heard about the $12 million plan to relocate the dilapidated, 1950s-era precinct building to the park when they received letters in early December from the county’s planning commission, which county officials have said were sent in error.
But Patricia Curran Whiteman, a Wantagh resident, told Krumpter the letters seemed “almost like a mistake” so residents wouldn’t find out about the plan and have the ability to weigh in.
“There is so much distrust,” said Curran Whiteman, 51.
“It was an accident; there is no hiding it,” said Krumpter, who at one point announced his cellphone number to the packed room. “There’s no way we would build this and sneak it by the community.”
A Mangano spokesman said Wednesday morning, “To be clear, the 7th Precinct is not being relocated to Cedar Creek Park.”
Several residents expressed a desire for the precinct to stay at its current location on Merrick Road in Seaford — about a half-mile from the park.
Mumtaz Ozers, 85, who lives a few blocks from the precinct, urged Krumpter to find additional funding if necessary to keep the building where it is.
“I just love it,” said Ozers, an auto repair shop owner. “I feel safe with the police there.”
Krumpter responded: “I’m hearing you loud and clear. The sentiment is to keep it right where it is.”
The county has looked at about 20 possible locations for the precinct, but is still exploring options, including the precinct remaining at its current location, Krumpter said.
However, he said the current site is not large enough for a modern building and the parking space they need.
Rhoads said he “absolutely” trusts that Mangano won’t later decide to move the precinct to the park.
“I wouldn’t announce it unless I was confident in my conversation with him,” he said.
Krumpter has said the current precinct — where 188 people are assigned — is “grossly inadequate,” lacking space for interview rooms and a proper arrest processing area. And, Krumpter said, the site “has a propensity for flooding” and is too small a footprint for a modern space.
County officials have said they have not yet mapped out a design for the facility, which covers a geographic area of Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, North Wantagh, Seaford and Massapequa. The county plans to pay for the project using capital funds.