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Belmont Park Project called too big for Floral Park at meeting

Richard Pfeiffer asks a question at a residents'

Richard Pfeiffer asks a question at a residents' meeting called by Floral Park Village elected officials Wednesday about the proposed Belmont Park Project. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

More traffic, more noise, more garbage and headaches are among the benefits that Floral Park residents were told they can look forward to, if the current plan to build a new home for the New York Islanders comes to the village.

At least 100 residents of Floral Park on Wednesday night listened to a less enthusiastic presentation of the billion-dollar Belmont Park Project, which developers have billed as a homecoming for the Islanders and a financial bonanza for the area.

Instead, the village’s elected officials, including Floral Park Deputy Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, guided the people packed into the Recreation and Pool Building through a slideshow that showed how the initial project had grown into a massive item that is too big for Floral Park.

“Imagine Belmont Stakes traffic every day,” read one of the slides Fitzgerald posted at the 7:30 p.m. meeting.

The event was designed to alert residents of the potential problems that the project could bring.

Fitzgerald admonished the group, saying, “Start thinking about these things now.”

State officials at Empire State Development have said an environmental impact report is due to appear soon, and residents will be asked to comment on it.

“It could have a significant impact on Floral Park,” Fitzgerald said. “We all know Floral Park is a great place, and to keep it the same or make it better is a very, very high bar.”

The project would become an 18,000-seat arena, 435,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants, a movie theater and a 250-room hotel. It also includes 30,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of community space and 8.5 acres of public open space.

In public meetings sponsored by the project’s developers, residents were particularly concerned about the 24-story hotel, which would be one of the tallest buildings in Nassau County, and a 40,000-square-foot power substation sited next to a Floral Park elementary school.

Shovels could be in the ground early next year, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has said.

Village Mayor Dominick Longobardi said Wednesday that the project was first presented as a modest proposal, one that included an arena, some restaurants and a few boutique shops, not the mega-sized one now envisioned by its developers, New York Arena Partners, the Islanders’ development team.

That group includes Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm run by the Mets’ Wilpon family, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed financially by Madison Square Garden.

“Our goal is to make sure our quality of life does not change,” Longobardi said. “The questions we raise tonight are just the beginning ... In my opinion, right now the project is way too big.”

His message to the Islanders?

“They want their arena, so be it,” he said. “Build your arena but don’t hurt us in the process.”

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