CENTRAL PARK — The city’s oldest police precinct is now one of its prettiest.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD brass gathered Tuesday to mark the reopening of the Central Park police precinct, following a $61 million renovation that replaced its leaking roof and dilapidated brickwork with a breezy atrium partially made of bulletproof glass.
“I know it wasn’t easy transforming the city’s oldest precinct into one of the most advanced,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said before cutting a blue ribbon in front of the landmarked stationhouse.
“As you can see, this project brings a 19th-century stationhouse into the 21st century, heralding a promising new future while preserving the legacy of the past," he said of the building, which dates back to 1871 and was first used as a horse stable and storage shed.
The building became the headquarters of the police precinct charged with protecting the 842-acre park in 1936.
But over the years, its brownstone facade and slate roof deteriorated, leaving it vulnerable to leaks, according to David Burney, the city's Department of Design and Construction commissioner.
In 2001, the precinct was moved into an adjacent parking lot to accommodate the reconstruction, which included repairs to the building's brickwork and roof, as well as the addition of a new, lightweight metal canopy over the existing courtyard to create an enclosed lobby with a glass atrium.
The building was also outfitted with new phones and computers, redesigned holding cells and locker rooms, as well as 2,300 square feet of new space.
But old elements remain.
The station’s old masonry, tile work and slate roofs have been restored. And inside, the brick wall of the park's old reservoir can be seen through glass windows along the east side of the building.
“It's modern and technological upgraded, but it’s true to its roots," said NYPD Captain Jessica Corey, the precinct's commanding officer.
Central Park, which is visited by more than 40 million people a year, has logged four serious crimes so far this year: two robberies, and two grand larcenies — one fewer than the same period last year, according to NYPD stats.
Crime in the park is down more than 20 percent since 2001, and 80 percent since 20 years ago, officials said.
“This facility underscores just how seriously the City of New York and its police department take our mission of keeping this park safe,” Kelly said.
The renovation, which began in December 2009, was originally expected to cost $46 million, but ballooned by more than 30 percent after crews encountered contaminated soil and old trolley tracks under the 86th Street transverse, a DDC spokesman said.
Police moved back into the building in June 2011, with the final construction completed in February, the spokesman said.