Elmont leaders take opposition to guv's office

Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont) holds a Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages (D-Elmont) holds a press conference outside the governor's Manhattan office in opposition to the proposed 25,000 seat soccer stadium at Belmont. (Aug. 6, 2013) Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

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Nassau Legislator CarriƩ Solages led a small group of local leaders Tuesday from Elmont to the governor's office in Manhattan to oppose a proposed 25,000-seat soccer stadium in their community.

"We want development in Elmont, but not just anything," said Solages (D-Elmont). "We want sustainable development, and the mega-stadium isn't sustainable."

The Solages team, armed with a dozen deflated soccer balls, was not allowed into the governor's office at 41st Street and 3rd Avenue with the items, so they mailed one of the balls to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany.

"We wanted to send a clear message on this," said Solages, who added that neither the governor nor his Empire State Development Corporation, which is reviewing bids for use of what is now a parking lot at Belmont Park, has responded to their numerous letters.

State officials would only say that they expect to make a decision on the site in coming weeks.

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for the group proposing the $400 million stadium project, the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, said in an interview that the proposal -- which includes a hotel, nine restaurants and more than 200,000 square feet of retail space -- would have vast benefits.

"The facts of our mixed-use plan . . . are very clear," he said. It would "immediately create 500 union construction jobs [and] another 2,000 full-time employees after construction, generating over $130 million in economic output annually. And it won't cost the taxpayers one cent."

Solages said he saw abandoned store fronts less than half a mile from the New York Red Bulls' stadium in Harrison, N.J., which has more and better infrastructure than Elmont for transportation and parking to relieve congestion. "They were not sustained by it," he said.

The Cosmos, playing at Hofstra, won Saturday, before a sellout crowd of 11,929, said Riegelhaupt. "We sure wish there had been more seats," he added.

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