Group of Sunset residents demand more access to landmarked courthouse

With the possible departure of one unit of the NYPD from the former Sunset Park courthouse, some members of the community are calling to have the facility serve a more integral role in the neighborhood.

The Magistrates Court House, 4201 Fourth Avenue, built in 1931, was declared a New York City landmark in 2001. It had served as a court until the early 1960s. Over 15 years ago, the Police Department displayed interest in using the space. As a result, the city spent money to repair the dated facility so police could use it as a back office space.

In addition, the building is home to Community Board 7, which has its office there and holds meetings in one of the building’s board rooms.

According to Tony Giordano, executive director of Sunset Park Restoration and creator of popular Facebook page, Sunset Parker, the NYPD recruitment center will be moving from the courthouse to the Queens NYPD Training Campus, which would free up much needed space in the courthouse for the community.

“Although NYPD won’t confirm it, the NYPD workers in the old Court House are talking freely about it to residents of the block,” he said.

For Giordano, the prospective NYPD move would be a golden opportunity in a heavily built-up neighborhood that is short of space for community programs. So it’s not surprising, therefore, that the page’s members have rallied together to form a campaign asking that the NYPD allow the building to be used in that way. Letters have been sent to elected officials and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton in support of the proposal.

“Commissioner Bratton had challenged us to come up with 30,000 square feet of free space for them to move to,” said Giordano. “We found them the space and now it seems the commissioner is not keeping his word.  They are going to move, but they are not going to give the space back to the community.”

Other Sunset residents would also like to see the space used for community purposes. “I’m not sure what the city’s plan for the building is. If there was an agreement that once NYPD moved out, it would be given back to the community, [it would mean that] now the city is going back on its word,” said Ninoshka Garrick. “It’s a great building and it would be great if the community would be able to use it.”

A potential use would be to lessen the gap in space for education programs, said Giordano. “Our community was over 1,000 seats short for the universal pre-K program,” he stressed. “We believe that NYPD’s [future] use of the building is not site-based. It can be housed virtually anywhere in Brooklyn.  But Sunset Park has no other space for its civic use.”

By press time, the NYPD had not responded to a request for comment.

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