Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village isn’t just a place for people in need of mental assistance, it is one of 23 former National Guard rifle ranges in New York that will be inspected this summer for any leftover health and environmental risks.
There are over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The Creedmoor Small Arms Range was in use from 1873 to 1907 and it took up 200 acres of land.
According to Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo of the U.S. Army, in 2005 the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program mandated the inspections at sites across the country for any type of health and environmental hazards. The Munitions Response process consists of multiple stages: a preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area, which was completed in 2008; and the site inspections which will begin in summer 2011, to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if follow-up actions are warranted at a site. The inspectors will use metal detectors, GPS units and small disposable plastic spoons to collect soil samples. Lombardo said it is important to do the inspections, but she isn’t sure why they haven’t been done before.
Anyone who has photographs, articles or any type of documentation on the old ranges should provide them to the National Guard. Individual maps are being drawn up for each site and until those are completed, officials won’t know how long it will take to conduct the inspections or how many people will be needed to perform them, she explained.
“Because it was a small range, they would anticipate small shell cases,” she said of Creedmoor.
Based on the size of the property, 100 soldiers used to practice shooting there once or twice a year, she said. So far, there have been no complaints from residents of Queens Village or employees at the center in relations to the upcoming inspection, Lombardo added.
Rick Duskiewicz of Bellerose, who is the president of the Creedmoor Civic Association, said he knows there is a former National Guard rifle range on the property, but he was unaware that there will be inspections in the summer. Many people in the community do not know there used to be an Army facility where Creedmoor is, he added.
Duskiewicz said he did not know that the grounds could contain hazardous materials and noted there are quite a few homes surrounding the property. Those people shouldn’t have a problem with the upcoming inspections, he said.
Viodela Ho-Shing, the deputy director of administration at Creedmoor, said she also knows that the property used to be a rifle range, but she did not know about the upcoming inspections or of any possible health hazards.