Floral Park residents deserve additional time to respond to the state's amended plans for redeveloping Belmont Park, including a new Long Island Rail Road station that would shuttle passengers to a 19,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders, elected officials and civic leaders said Monday.
The final environmental impact statement, issued last month by Empire State Development, included several new details that could change the fabric of the residential community, officials said at a news conference in the shadows of the state-run park. They include plans for a new LIRR station to service the Belmont development, a traffic mitigation study and the potential addition of two 30,000-gallon propane tanks below ground on the south side of the project.
The deadline for public comment on the final statement was Aug. 1. But Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi told a crowd of more than 150 that ESD should issue a supplemental environmental impact statement that would allow residents to offer public comment on the new project elements.
"We do not want to go forward with this project as is because there is no way, in any shape or form, that it won't hurt us," said Longobardi, adding that the village is considering several options, including a lawsuit, to stop the project.
Parkhurst Civic Association vice president Aubrey Phillips accused the state of an "egregious breach of process" for failing to listen to the community's concerns. "It's time for the governor to listen to our communities and not just the hockey fans," Phillips said.
But ESD spokesman Jack Sterne said the state has held dozens of public hearings on the $1.26 billion project, responded to thousands of public comments and modified the project several times, including reducing the size of a planned 250-room hotel and 350,000-square-feet retail village.
The state, Sterne said, is required to issue a supplemental EIS only if changes to the project would result in “significant adverse impacts." Many items raised by Floral Park officials, he said, would reduce traffic congestion while the propane tanks are one of several possibilities under consideration to pump heat and hot water into the development.
"This news conference is nothing more than a last-ditch attempt to derail a project that will create thousands of jobs, generate $858 million in annual economic activity, build the first new LIRR station in over 50 years at little cost to the state, and produce tens of millions of new tax dollars for Long Island communities,” Sterne said.
Kevin Flood, vice president of West End Civic Association, a project critic, said the community deserves additional time to respond to the 8,000-page final environmental impact statement.
"To give our residents such a short time to read, contemplate and comment on such a voluminous document is borderline neglect," Flood said.
Nassau Legis. Vincent Muscarella (R-West Hempstead) said ESD should review the plan again "to make sure that this development is done properly."