Kingston may get Midtown police precinct
KINGSTON, N.Y. — A vacant former bank building in Midtown could become home to a city police precinct.
Mayor Shayne Gallo said he is in preliminary talks with officials from the Bank of America and a real estate agent on the possible purchase of the building at Broadway and Henry Street.
The mayor said there is no deal in place yet but that he is getting a positive reaction to the idea from businesses along the Broadway corridor.
The news of Gallo considering a Midtown precinct comes on the heels of an announcement last week that three police officers and a detective sergeant will be assigned to the new Kingston Police Youth Bureau at the Everette Hodge Midtown Community Center on Franklin Street.
Gallo said he recognizes that if the city were to buy the bank building, it would remove the property from the tax rolls. He surmised, though, that turning the building into a police precinct would attract more businesses to vacant storefronts in Midtown and help revitalize the neighborhood.
City Comptroller John Tuey said the Bank of America property is assessed at $1,717,000. City, county and school taxes on the site amount to $34,352, Tuey said.
Gallo said the police precinct could increase the value of nearby properties, including the site of the former King’s Inn welfare motel, just across Henry Street from the bank building. Gallo has said he wants to get a development proposal for the King’s Inn site by the end of the year.
“Having a police station in Midtown would result in increasing the values (of properties) exponentially,” Gallo said.
He also said the police presence would allay concerns expressed by some developers about public safety in the area.
The idea of a Midtown police precinct is drawing both support and concerns from city lawmakers. Continued...
Common Council Majority Leader Thomas Hoffay said it’s good to have a discussion about a potential police precinct that the cost of renovating the building and the impact of taking it off the tax rolls must weigh heavily in the conversation, along with the cost of maintaining another government building.
“My only concern would be, are we expanding the empire at the expense of the taxpayers?” said Hoffay, D-Ward 2.
The alderman said he does not believe crime is so prevalent along Broadway that it has kept business from moving into Midtown. He pointed to several businesses that have located there in recent months.
Hoffay also noted that there have been proposals in the past to establish a police precinct in Midtown. In the late 1990s, there was even a plan to build entire new police station at the site of the municipal parking lot on Cornell Street.
Hoffay also questioned whether a Midtown police precinct along with the police headquarters on Garraghan Drive could be adequately staffed given the department’s current manpower.
Council Minority Leader Debbie Brown said Midtown needs to be made more attractive and a police precinct might help.
“In order to make Midtown a more desirable place, we need to clean it up,” Brown, R-Ward 9, said in an email. “Nothing sends criminals scurrying like a police station in their midst. Yes, it might be off the tax rolls, but think what we would gain in businesses coming back to that part of the city who would be on the tax rolls.”
Brown also said a Midtown police precinct would make life safer for residents of the area.
“A police station gives them that security which would encourage home ownership once again in those blocks,” Brown said. “We cannot afford to be short-sighted. We need to look at the bigger picture.”
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